Roots & Branches: The Symbol of the Tree in the Imagination of G. K. Chestertonby Deb Elkink
There are few intellectual exercises more rewarding than the close reading of a Chesterton text. And too few critics have made the effort. Along with most exercise, it is avoided. Perhaps they are intimidated to offer a critical analysis of a writer who is himself a master literary critic. But Deb Elkink has risen to the challenge. She has not
ROOTS AND BRANCHES
There are few intellectual exercises more rewarding than the close reading of a Chesterton text. And too few critics have made the effort. Along with most exercise, it is avoided. Perhaps they are intimidated to offer a critical analysis of a writer who is himself a master literary critic. But Deb Elkink has risen to the challenge. She has not only gone very deep, she has gone deep on one theme in Chesterton, which illuminates the rest of his writing. The branches of the tree cover a wide area indeed. But she has also plunged into one particular text: Chesterton's rollicking tale, The Flying Inn. With her essay, "The Seven Moods of Gilbert," she has presented a more penetrating analysis of this novel than has ever been written.
-Dale Ahlquist, President, American Chesterton Association
I warmly recommend Deb Elkink's excellent study. It is particularly admirable in giving Chesterton that close reading of his imagery (in this case that of the tree) and in convincingly linking particular aesthetic effects (a somewhat overlooked area in Chesterton studies) to a convincing grasp of their religious meaning. This is a valuable exploration which fills a need in accounts of the subject.
Deb Elkink rightly calls Chesterton "the didactic artist," and her study of the symbolism of the tree in Chesterton's writings leads to the conclusion that the tree forms the great sign of contradiction, the cross, which is the symbol of the ultimate paradox: the God-Man. The almighty stick is not merely Chesterton's personal prop, it is the chief tool in his classroom. In Roots and Branches, Deb Elkink draws on extensive research into Chesterton's writings to support her conclusions while informing the reader in her highly readable, award-winning writing style. Readers are also treated to the bonus of the story of conversion from Chesterton's prescient novel The Flying Inn.
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