GK Chesterton’s biography of St Francis is one of the classic biographies of St Francis and Chesterton attributed his work on this book to his eventual conversion to Catholicism. Both of which were good reasons to read (listen) to this book.
I have started paying attention to the audiobook discounts when you first purchase kindle books. So I picked this book up at the beginning of July when I had some promotional credits at Audible. I might have been better served by reading the kindle version instead of listening to the audio version. Chesterton is not the easiest author to read. He has a lot of asides and his fairly conversational writing style takes some getting used to. That and he is brilliant.
Chesterton’s biography of St Francis is not a traditional biography. Instead it is partially a biography and partially an exploration of the state of the Catholic church at the time of Francis and how Francis changed the Catholic church during his time and after. So if you are looking for a traditional biography, you will probably be disappointed by this book. It has biographical details, but not many of them.
Honestly my main reluctance to read this was that I assumed it would be hagiography and I really do not like reading hagiography. I want to read about the person, but I assume that the reality of the person is important (not just how great they are.) Chesterton is not writing hagiography. He is fascinated by Francis, but that does not stop him from see Francis as a real person.
Chesterton does, however, defend the traditional views of Francis, including the miracles. He does this not so much because of his superior evidence, but to counter the idea that miracles must be made up because we are in a more modern world that does not believe in miracles.
If this is your first view of either Francis or Chesterton, you might want to at least read the wikipedia page first to give yourself a little background going in.
Related Bookwi.se Reviews
- The Complete Thinker: The Marvelous Mind of GK Chesterton
- The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of St Francis by Richard Rohr
- Chasing Francis: A Pigrims Tale by Ian Morgan Cron (Novel)