Monday 9 March 2020

Hilaire Belloc - Karl Schmude - CTS Biographies

Hilaire Belloc
CTS Biographies
Karl Schmude
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860825576
eISBN 9781784694920
CTS Booklet B716

I freely admit my knowledge of the man and his works was lacking. I have not read anything by Belloc or even much about him. Over the last few years I have read over 100 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. I have read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series, and the Great Saints Series. And this was the second volume I have read by Karl Schmude, the other on G.K. Chesterton in this same series. And I believe these are the only two written by Karl. This little volume is another excellent read in the CTS Biographies series. And it has left me with a great desire to read some of Hilaire’s works and more works about him.

Based on the number of this book, B716, there are over 700 books in the CTS Biographies series, spanning the over 150 years history. I have read about a dozen of them and have at least than many on wish list to track down and read. 

The chapters in this book are:

Belloc’s Influence
European and Universal
Preparation for Public Life
Radical Social Philosopher
The Loneliness of a Personal Cross
The Consummate Writer
An Enduring Legacy

The eBook edition of this book from CTS was released in 2017. And we are informed that:

“This pamphlet is a revised version of Hilaire Belloc: His Life and Legacy, published by the Australian Catholic Truth Society (Melbourne, 1978).”

The original CTS edition was in print in 2009. And I am thankful that it is back in print and available.  We are informed that:

“For those living more than half a century after Belloc’s death, that immortality has yet to acquire any visible or earthly dimension. Belloc has declined in favour, not only among the general reading public which accorded him fame in his lifetime, but even in the Catholic community which he did so much to shape and strengthen. His life and writings have drifted into the coves of historical memory, and even commemorative activities, such as on the centenary of his birth in 1970 or on the 50th anniversary of his death in 2003, have done little to resurrect his name.”

We are also informed that:

“To a large degree the fading of Belloc’s influence is not difficult to explain. He has experienced the customary eclipse of all authors immediately after their death; and, indeed, unless a writer happens to be concerned prematurely with a matter that subsequently seizes widespread attention – as, for example, George Orwell was with the nature and effects of totalitarianism – he is unlikely to escape this trough of posthumous neglect.

In Belloc’s case, his reputation has also suffered severely from the tides of social and religious change. The world he inhabited was centred upon Europe, the faith he proclaimed was centred upon France. It is in different directions that the eyes of our present generation are turned; within a global rather than European environment that the destinies of our time are chiefly being played out.”

But that is changing. The man and his works are seeing a resurgence of late. And in part we are informed it is because of the great need for Catholics today.

“For the Catholic people, the recent decades of religious and cultural turmoil present a timely opportunity for reviewing Belloc’s life and achievement. There is now an imperative need for the clarifying vision of a great Catholic mind; the spiritual penetration of a deep and authentic faith; the divine wisdom of an integrated Christian humanism. To an eminent degree, Hilaire Belloc fulfils the dimensions and demands of such a universal vocation.”

After reading this volume and the one on G.K. Chesterton, I realize that as I have a love for the life and works of C.S. Lewis and invested time in reading books by and about him. I need to do the same for Chesterton and Belloc. This book has spurned me on in that quest.

The is another great read from the Catholic Truth Society. And I agree Catholics and the world today needs more of Belloc!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

For other reviews of CTS Biographies click here.

Books by Karl Schmude:
G.K. Chesterton
Hilaire Belloc

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