Who was G.K. Chesterton? As Relevant as Ever, Life of Literary Giant Explored in New Biography

'Nothing so much threatens the safety of democracy as assuming that democracy is safe' said Chesterton in 1922

Jan 03, 2011, 14:56 ET from Thomas Nelson

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Jan. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Though his first visit to America was in 1921, literary giant and Christian apologist GK Chesterton had startlingly profound insights about democracy in America that still hold true today -- perhaps even more so, given the tumultuous state of our nation's current political climate. Chesterton espoused the necessity of a moral citizenry.

"So far that democracy becomes or remains Catholic and Christian, that democracy will remain democratic. In so far that is does not, it will become wildly and wickedly undemocratic."

In his 1922 book, What I Saw in America, Chesterton expressed keen admiration for America's founding documents.

"America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature."

"Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life & Impact of G.K. Chesterton", by Kevin Belmonte, hits shelves across the country tomorrow.

Who was GK Chesterton?

An acclaimed journalist, literary critic, lecturer, and apologist, GK Chesterton, throughout his life, was first and foremost an astute observer of emerging social trends and schools of thought. He gave voice to time-tested principles that serve a nation well no matter the change that is "in the air" and how those changes fit into the bigger picture of society. Chesterton's gift of eloquence and wit allowed him to boil down ideas to basics—weigh them against his Christian values—and inform others.

Perhaps most importantly, Chesterton could speak to people on the street on a common level, but with great complexity. He was an all-around player and all facets of his game were sound. He was an intellectual who could get down on the level of the "regular guy," and was just as comfortable in universities and hallowed halls.  He remains one of the world's most oft-read and quoted authors.

Chesterton captured the imagination of many of his famous contemporaries – as well as that of many of today's greatest thinkers.

Philip Yancey, C.S. Lewis, Frederick Buechner, T.S. Eliot, Flannery O'Connor and Dorothy Sayers all had in common a deep appreciation for G.K. Chesterton.

- Yancey expressed his great indebtedness to Chesterton at length by writing an introduction to Doubleday's 2001 edition of Chesterton's masterwork, "Orthodoxy."

- C.S. Lewis's return to faith was greatly influenced by his reading of Chesterton, and he constantly recommended that seeker friends read Chesterton's classic apologia, "The Everlasting Man."

- Buechner paid an essay-length tribute to Chesterton's classic metaphysical thriller, "The Man Who was Thursday," along other essays in tribute to Gerard Manley Hopkins and Mark Twain.

- T.S. Eliot mourned Chesterton's death and penned a generous and revealing obituary to honor him.

- Dorothy Sayers called Chesterton "a beneficent bomb," owing much to his Christian witness. She later wrote an introduction to his posthumously published play, "The Surprise."

For more information or to schedule an interview with Belmonte, contact Katie Broaddus at (256) 527-6152 or Katie@katiebroaddus.com

SOURCE Thomas Nelson