New York: John Lane Company, 1909. First US edition. Octavo. Original red cloth with gilt title. Small closed tears to head of slightly tanned spine and faint white speckling to tail of front board. Near-fine. Item #35
A sharp and bright copy of this first, and rare, US edition of G. K. Chesterton’s (1874–1936) classic defense of his Christian belief. The British edition was first published in September 1908 by John Lane, The Bodley Head (London) in a green cloth binding, and the US edition was published in the same year, although both state 1909 as the publication date on the title page. It remains uncertain which edition was, in fact, published first. Chesterton purportedly sold the book to the publisher for a flat £100, suggesting that he did not perceive the timeless reception that the book would receive after its publication. Chesterton states in the introduction that Orthodoxy is a response to critics of his earlier work Heretics (1905), a collection of essays in which he criticizes contemporary philosophies and the philosophers behind them. Among the reviewers of Heretics was G. S. Street, who stated that “I will begin to worry about my philosophy when Mr. Chesterton has given us his.” Orthodoxy presents Chesterton’s masterful response to this challenge, and it stands as an enduring testament to his glimmering and insightful prose. It remains among the most powerful, and quoted, modern explications of the Christian faith, and is renowned for its combination of personal testimony and scholarly argument. A truly towering work that has influenced a generation of scholars, novelists, and poets, including C. S. Lewis, W. H. Auden, J. R. R. Tolkien, Dorothy Sayers, and Graham Greene. Identified by National Review as one of the 100 greatest non-fiction books of the twentieth century. Enclosed is an accompanying advertisement for new novels that appears to be of contemporaneous date.