New York and London: John Lane Company/The Bodley Head, 1909. First American edition. Octavo, original gilt red cloth. Early owner signature to free front endpaper, white speckling to base of front board, closed tears to head of faintly toned spine. A sharp-cornered, near-fine copy. Item #894
"TRADITION MEANS GIVING VOTES TO THE MOST OBSCURE OF ALL CLASSES, OUR ANCESTORS. IT IS THE DEMOCRACY OF THE DEAD"Rare first American edition of G.K. Chesterton's most important book, a stirring affirmation of Christianity. "Orthodoxy was Chesterton's first explicitly Christian title and his biographer, Maisie Ward, considered it so important that 'more must be said of it than his other published works'" (Joseph Pearce). Chesterton's engaging book would prove to be widely influential, inspiring the spiritual journeys of successive generations of Catholics and Anglicans, but it is often forgotten that both Heretics (1905) and Orthodoxy pre-date Chesterton's conversion to Catholicism: "Although famous as a Catholic apologist, Chesterton's formal conversion to Catholicism came only in 1922 when he was 48. But he had been traveling in this direction for many years. One of his most famous books, Orthodoxy, a defense of traditional Christianity, was published in 1908. The book was inspired by the remark of a reader of his previous book, Heretics, who challenged him to state the standpoint from which he dismissed the views of everyone else. So he had set out to define his own religion, only to realize that a definition already existed in the creeds of Christianity" (Robert Ellsberg). The British edition of Orthodoxy was published on September 25, 1908, in a green cloth binding. Both the British and American editions state 1909 on the title-page but "the American edition was also published in 1908, but whether before or after September 25 it has not been possible to discover. It is dated 1908 on the title-page and has a Preface by G.K.C." (John Sullivan. G.K. Chesterton: A Bibliography, 13A). An excellent copy of a landmark of the Christian Literary Revival. Pearce. Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief. Ellsberg. All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets and Witnesses for Our Time.