Publisher: Ignatius Press
Publication Date: August 30, 2004
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Edited by Dale Ahlquist.
Hilaire Belloc called "Lepanto" Chesterton's greatest poem and the greatest poem of his generation. But not only have English classes neglected this masterpiece of rhyme and meter, History classes have neglected the story of the pivotal battle upon which the poem is based.
This book brings together the poem, the historical background of the famous battle, a riveting account of the battle itself, and a discussion of its historical consequences. The poem is fully annotated, and is supplemented with two interesting essays by Chesterton himself. Well-known Chesterton expert, Dale Ahlquist, has gathered together all the insightful commentaries and explanatory notes. Here is the story behind the modern conflict between Christianity and Islam, between Protestant and Catholic Europe, and the origin of the Feast of the Holy Rosary. A fascinating blend of literature, history, religion and romance!
G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) was a prolific English journalist and author best known for his mystery series featuring the priest-detective Father Brown and for the metaphysical thriller The Man Who Was Thursday. Baptized into the Church of England, Chesterton underwent a crisis of faith as a young man and became fascinated with the occult. He eventually converted to Roman Catholicism and published some of Christianity's most influential apologetics, including Heretics and Orthodoxy.
The great historical battle of Lepanto will ring for generations as the stunning, decisive victory for the Kingdom of Christ. To commemorate this momentous occasion, G.K. Chesterton composes a seemingly genuine and authentic poem any Christian can understand its significance. While the poem is only a few pages in length, the real star of this novella is the commentary and the explanatory notes, which help to due the poem justice. Like with any great piece of art there is often underlying meanings "hidden" from plain sight. The notes section gives you a sense of what Chesterton thought during its creation. Meanwhile the commentary gives you a more detailed view of what happened: beginning, middle, and end. And just for good measure, two essays by Chesterton: one with reference to Miguel de Cervantes, and the other about his hero Don Juan de Austria and Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots.
While I love reading Chesterton, in this poem it becomes aware of where he writes from and I don't agree with him there. In the poem he references Spain. Now this alone isn't bothersome, however he takes ever so subtle jabs at Spain and doesn't out right say it, but is, I feel, nonetheless propagates the so-called "Black Legend". Now, its not enough to accuse him of such, but it is enough to annoy someone who knows more or less what is going on. Whatever the reason, it is a great introductory for someone who doesn't know about Lepanto; its just not the whole nine yards on Lepanto.