The Ball and the Cross is a novel by G. K. Chesterton. The title refers to a more worldly and rationalist worldview, represented by a ball or sphere, and the cross representing Christianity. The first chapters of the book were serialized from 1905 to 1906 with the completed work published in 1909. The novel's beginning involves debates about rationalism and religion between a Professor Lucifer and a monk named Michael. A part of this section was quoted in Pope John Paul I's Illustrissimi letter to G. K. Chesterton.Much of the rest of the book concerns the dueling, figurative and somewhat more literal, of a Jacobite Catholic named Maclan and an atheist Socialist named Turnbull.Lynette Hunter has argued that the novel is more sympathetic to Maclan, but does indicate Maclan is also presented as in some ways too extreme.Turnbull, as well, is presented in a sympathetic light: both duelists are ready to fight for and die for their antagonistic opinions and, in doing so, develop a certain partnership that evolves into a friendship. The real antagonist is the world outside, which desperately tries to prevent from happening a duel over "mere religion" (a subject both duelists judge of utmost importance).
Gilbert Keith Chesterton, KC*SG (29 May 1874 - 14 June 1936), better known as G. K. Chesterton, was an English writer,poet, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, orator, lay theologian, biographer, and literary and art critic. Chesterton is often referred to as the "prince of paradox".Time magazine has observed of his writing style: "Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories-first carefully turning them inside out."
Chesterton is well known for his fictional priest-detective Father Brown,and for his reasoned apologetics. Even some of those who disagree with him have recognised the wide appeal of such works as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. Chesterton, as a political thinker, cast aspersions on both Progressivism and Conservatism, saying, "The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected."Chesterton routinely referred to himself as an "orthodox" Christian, and came to identify this position more and more with Catholicism, eventually converting to Catholicism from High Church Anglicanism. George Bernard Shaw, Chesterton's "friendly enemy" according to Time, said of him, "He was a man of colossal genius."Biographers have identified him as a successor to such Victorian authors as Matthew Arnold, Thomas Carlyle, Cardinal John Henry Newman, and John Ruskin.
Chesterton was born in Campden Hill in Kensington, London, the son of Marie Louise, née Grosjean, and Edward Chesterton.He was baptised at the age of one month into the Church of England,though his family themselves were irregularly practising Unitarians.According to his autobiography, as a young man Chesterton became fascinated with the occult and, along with his brother Cecil, experimented with Ouija boards.Chesterton was educated at St Paul's School, then attended the Slade School of Art to become an illustrator. The Slade is a department of University College London, where Chesterton also took classes in literature, but did not complete a degree in either subject.
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