Item description for Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc by Joseph Pearce...
Overview With access to previously unpublished material in the form of Hilaire Belloc's letters and photographs, Pearce's major new biography uncovers a romantic, complex, and solitary character. Illustrations.
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Studio: Ignatius Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1.25" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.25" Weight: 1.4 lbs.
Release Date Jan 28, 2004
Publisher Ignatius Press
ISBN 0898709423 ISBN13 9780898709421
Availability 0 units.
More About Joseph Pearce
Joseph Pearce is Director of the Center for Faith and Culture and Writer in Residence at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee. He is a renowned biographer whose books include his autobiography, Race with the Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love(Saint Benedict Press, 2013);Candles in the Dark: The Authorized Biography of Fr. Ho Lung, Missionaries of the Poor(Saint Benedict Press, 2012), Through Shakespeare's Eyes: Seeing the Catholic Presence in the Plays(Ignatius Press, 2010); andTolkien: Man and Myth, a Literary Life(HarperCollins, 1998). He is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Higher Education from Thomas More College for the Liberal Arts and also received the Pollock Award for Christian Biography. He is co-editor of theSt. Austin Reviewand has hosted two series on Shakespeare for EWTN, as well as hosting several EWTN productions on J. R. R. Tolkien."
Reviews - What do customers think about Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc?
Fascinating reading Mar 16, 2003
I am 17 years old, and I had just discovered Belloc (in The Path to Rome - lucky me!) when my grandma gave me this biography for Christmas. So it was all news to me; I've never read another biography of him. I loved all the quotes and anecdotes, and the prose is outstanding. It was often very sad, especially towards the end...
Here I have to say something about the reviewer who gave it two stars. I understand his feelings, I think, but his view of history is somewhat distorted: I'm sure he'd agree that the Catholic Reformation and Counter-Reformation were even more energetic with "intelligence and activity" than the Catholic Revival - with all of the saints, missionaries, scholars, artists and composers who worked to bring Europe and all the world to Christ. That said, the Catholic revival (literary and otherwise) was a unique and exhilarating period in the Church. It was not a "last twitching" before a "long decline" - the revival began in the early 19th century and continued about 60 years into the 20th. The decline was not long and slow but sudden and catastrophic - it has been going about 35 years. Every empirically measurable statistic in the 20th cen. Church - Mass attendance, vocations, converts, belief in key doctrines, etc. - shows either a high, constant rate or a steady upward trend - until the 1960's, when there is a sudden, almost exponential drop. The Church just hits a wall. It can't be wholy blamed on "sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll"; there is no equivalent collapse in Protestant denominations. Everything was just different after the council and the new Mass and all that. It's a good thing that Belloc didn't have to see this - it would have broken his heart. On the other hand, we need his fighting spirit now more than ever...
The "atmosphere of English Catholicism". I think Pearse does convey some of this. What struck me when I began to read English Catholic literature was this overpowering sense of elegy, and an awareness of injustice past and present that was almost too painful to read - but all of it balanced by levity and satire and soldierly faith. It was quite intoxicating to someone young and idealistic, and unaccustomed to it. It is found in many writers - you could almost tell that JRR Tolkien was an English Catholic just by reading "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Silmarilion". It even turns up in Chesterton's detective stories...
I think that Pearse does give us some of this atmosphere, but he is not really relating Belloc to the post-conciliar Church. A lot of Catholic authors today just don't want to think about this disparity - Pearse included? I hope not. Anyway, this is a very enjoyable biography with many stories of Belloc's life - his travels to Rome and America, his exploits in Parliament (with excerpts from his very provocative speeches!) his friendships with Chesterton and Maurice Baring... I still wish that Pearse would put photographs in his books through. Oh well.
No One Can Top Pearce On Belloc Feb 22, 2003
Joseph Pearce has carved out a niche for himself as the primary biographer of Catholic Literary Greats. His volumes on Chesterton, Tolkien, and other literary figures are well worth reading. Although he has written of Hillaire Belloc in many of his other works, "Old Thunder" finally gives Belloc his due. The man who is remembered by many as a writer of children's verse is revealed to us as a powerhouse of journalism, fiction, and poetry. At the same time, we see a man of intense Catholic piety and devotion making his way through struggles with finances and the early loss of his greatly beloved wife.
If you enjoy literary biography, you'll find Pearce is a master. Jump in with "Old Thunder" and make the rounds through all of Pearce's work.
Old Thunder - Evangelical Catholicism Jan 6, 2003
For Catholic Converts, "Old Thunder" is a must read. I am certain it is not the most well researched nor scholarly work on Belloc or the period of Catholic literary rennasaince. But as an introduction to the period and the players it is an excellent book.
Historians and biographers such as Joseph Pearce seem to be held in low regard by their peers. Nonetheless, in bringing charaters such as Belloc to the less well read they are invaluable.
The value of this book is also multiplied by Mr. Pearce's prose. Few writers of non-fiction are so preasurable to read. Old Thunder is an extraordinary biography.
Catholic Brilliance Leading Nowhere Nov 23, 2002
Hilaire Belloc and his Catholic associates, men like G.K.Chesterton, Maurice Baring, Ronald Knox, lived at a time when liberalism seemed doomed and Catholicism, with Thomism, Ultramontanism, and a "third way" between Capitalism and Socialism seemed on its way to reconquer Europe. Never since the medieval period had so much intelligence and activity been expended on behalf of re-Catholicization, and the number of converts to the Church among Protestants, Jews, and agnostics was impressive. As it turned out, however, this was less a Catholic revival than the last twitching before Catholicism entered its long decline, the effects of which we still see today.
A book about Belloc, who used his considerable talents in what ultimately was a lost cause, should have done something with the peculiar atmosphere of English Catholicism at the end of the 19th and the start of the 20th Century. Instead Pearce prefers to engage essentially in amiable gossip. There is not much here one cannot already find in books about Belloc & Co. The peculiar atmosphere of English Catholicism in the modern period is better approached through Evelyn Waugh's "Brideshead Revisited" than here.
I think perhaps Pearce deserves a comment once made about Belloc himself: he writes too much to have time for thought.
A Much-Needed Book Sep 28, 2002
An interesting, engaging, and important read for all orthodox Roman Catholics. Hilaire Belloc was, in his day, an incomparable Defender of the Faith; he continues, almost 50 years after his death, to instruct and inspire, and is worthy of emulation.
The book is well-written and well-researched. It's occasionally a bit too much by-the-numbers, and declines somewhat toward the end, mirroring the decline of Belloc (one gets the impression that Joseph Pearce began to lose interest in Belloc as his subject's life entered its final and least interesting phase).
I think that, overall, Old Thunder would be pleased with "Old Thunder".