Form and Content

(Literary Essentials: Nonfiction Masterpieces)

Autobiographyis considerably more than the simple chronology of a life. Never in his writings was Gilbert Keith Chesterton primarily concerned with mere fact and date, and so little does his Autobiography touch upon such matters that the reader new to Chesterton and his era will find much of the book confusing unless he or she first consults a secondary source, such as Dudley Barker’s G. K. Chesterton: A Biography (1973), Lawrence J. Clipper’s G. K. Chesterton (1974), or the lengthy biographical essay with which A. L. Maycock introduces The Man Who Was Orthodox: A Selection from the Uncollected Writings of G. K. Chesterton (1963). Yet, for the reader familiar with Chesterton or interested in the cultural, political, and intellectual history of London in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Autobiography is a rich source of material, and it certainly offers much assistance in the interpretation of Chesterton’s fiction, including both his Father Brown detective stories and his novels—primarily, The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904), The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare (1908), and The Flying Inn (1914). What Chesterton relates in his Autobiography is the story of his spiritual journey. Here, as elsewhere in his writings, he regards that aspect of life as of overriding importance; in the face of man’s confrontation with eternal truths, facts about his...

(The entire section is 513 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Nonfiction Masterpieces)

Clemens, Cyril. Chesterton As Seen by His Contemporaries, 1939.

Lea, F. A. The Wild Knight of Battersea, 1945.

O’Connor, John. Father Brown on Chesterton, 1937.

Ward, Maisie. Gilbert Keith Chesterton, 1943.

Ward, Maisie. Return to Chesterton, 1952.