London: Cecil Palmer, 1928. First edition. 16 mo. (7 1/2 inches tall), original orange cloth stamped in black, original photographic dust jacket. A near-fine copy. Item #1037
"MR. CHESTERTON HAS REJECTED SOCIALISM NOMINALLY...BUT HE IS A DISTRIBUTIST, WHICH MEANS TO-DAY A REDISTRIBUTIST. HE HAS ARRIVED BY HIS OWN PATH AT MY POSITIION" (BERNARD SHAW) First book edition of the broadcast debate over Collectivist philosophy between G.K. Chesterton and G.B. Shaw—complete with the rare photographic dust jacket. George Bernard Shaw came to regard his friends Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton as a single, four-legged adversary: "In 1908 Shaw had invented the 'Chesterbelloc' suggesting that Belloc and Chesterton were seen so synonymously that they produced a 'quadrupedal illusion...a very amusing pantomime elephant'" (Joseph Pearce). Published for the Distributist League, founded "for the restoration of liberty by the distribution of property" with Chesterton as League president. "More than any other writer...Chesterton had taken on the secularists, doing battle with 'heretics' such as Shaw and Wells with a good-natured joviality which was infectious. Chesterton's Christianity was catching and through his piercing paradoxes and quixotic enthusiasm many were beginning to discover the attractions of orthodoxy" (Pearce).
This exchange was typical of the sporting battles between opposing Chestertonian and Shavian sensibilities. "Although Shaw and Chesterton seldom agreed and were continually arguing they never quarrelled. Intellectual enemies in a war of words, the beauty of their relationship resided in a genuine 'love for thine enemy'" (Pearce). The text is preceded by A Prefatory Note from the publisher, Cecil Palmer: "In justice to all concerned I feel it may be my duty to state frankly that this account of a public discussion between Mr. Chesterton and Mr. Shaw is something less than verbatim report. But with some assistance from the debaters it has been possible to save enough from oblivion to justify publication. C.P." Hilaire Belloc's participation "in the Chair" consists of brief introductory remarks and conclusion which includes a poem: "I was told when I accepted this onerous office that I was to sum up. I shall do nothing of the sort. In a very few years from now this debate will be antiquated. I will now recite you a poem: "Our civilization / Is built upon coal...In a very few years / It will float upon oil." A final leaf describes the Distributist League. Sullivan, G.K. Chesterton: A Bibliography, 352. Pearce. Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief. A bright, fresh copy.