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134BOOK REVIEWS bat anti-Semitism and could be stigmatized as a "baptized Jew" (although Dessauer's ancestors had converted to Catholicism in 1813)The widely pubUcized trial was a complete failure for the Nazis, however, ending with Dessauer's acquittal for his aUeged "malfeasance" and a public statement from the judge that his conduct had been entirely honorable. Probably as a consequence ofthis fiasco, the "greatVolksverein trial" never took place. After the war, there was an unsuccessful attempt to revive or re-create the Volksverein, supported by, among others, Konrad Adenauer, rather surprisingly, since the old Volksverein had worked closely with the Catholic Center Party, while his newly founded Christian Democratic Union was intended from the first to be interconfessional. Much of the sentiment for revival seems to have been motivated by nostalgia for the pre-WorldWar I organization, and the bishops discouraged the plans, preferring a clearer separation of poUtics and social poUcy from reUgion than had prevaUed before. Like most German monographs this volume has an extensive scholarly apparatus , including an appendix with tables of the Volksverein's membership and regional distribution at deferent times, and correspondence and other documents from the years 1928-1933. It is hard to imagine a more thorough and meticulous coverage of this subject. Ellen L. Evans Georgia State University (Emérita) Wisdom and Innocence: A Life ofG. K. Chesterton. By Joseph Pearce. (San Francisco : Ignatius Press. 1996. Pp. xiv, 522. $29.95.) Joseph Pearce's biography of G. K. Chesterton is a venture of love and high praise. Although it purports to stand out from other books on Chesterton by having drawn on many previously unpublished sources, there is far less new here to satisfy the claim.Apart from some scattered letters, notes, diary entries, and poems from the Chesterton Study Center, Pearce relies mostly on previous biographies, notably the pioneering works of Maise Ward and, of more recent vintage, books by Michael Coren and Michael Ffinch, the latter of whom was given unlimited access to Chesterton's papers. Although Wisdom and Innocence is essentiaUy derivative, the book makes a contribution to Chesterton studies because of its special focus. Pearce's main interests are Chesterton's reUgious vision and personal relationships.The reader is overburdened by the mUrutia of G. K.'s domestic agendas, but Pearce manages to convey the seminal importance of Frances Blogg Chesterton in the writer's Ufe as few others have managed. An intensely private person, Frances was a silent partner, and thus her role has been unappreciated. Pearce is particularly good in his descriptions of Chesterton's relationships with brother CecU, George Bernard Shaw, H. G.Wells, and HUaire BeUoc. Pearce BOOK REVIEWS135 corrects the popular misconception behind what Shaw caUed the "Chesterbelloc ,"making it clear that G. K.was no clone ofBeUoc. Chesterton's style and temperament were Ui stark contrast to the latter. BeUoc too often lacked tact and decorum; when he sparred there was a raw, nasty edge to his combativeness. BeUoc made enemies; Chesterton maintained Hfe-long, close friendships with his inteUectual adversaries. H. G.Wells, for instance, saw Chesterton's presence as "a joyous whei ofbrushwork." But there was a partisan viciousness about BeIloc , he claimed, that "bars him from my celestial dreams." Nor should it be beUeved, writes Pearce, that BeUoc had much to do with the making of Chesterton . BeUoc himself rejected this notion, considering his friend "a thinker so profound and so dUect that he had no equal." Unlike Shaw, Pearce sees the ChesterbeUoc to have been founded on a healthy symbiosis: Chesterton sharpened BeUoc's phUosophical insights; BeUoc gave G. K. a broader perspective on European history. Contrary to Pearce's claims, however, BeUoc was not an especiaUy good Lnfluence as historian, for he used the past primarily for tendentious purposes. BeUoc certainly would have faUed any graduate course in historical methodology. Readers will find Uttle of Chesterton's economic, political, or social ideas in this biography, for Pearce's passion is Chesterton as Catholic apologist, which, for him, is the touchstone of the writer's greatness. Not everyone saw this as G. K.'s strong suit.WeUs and Shaw were convUiced that the ties to Rome cramped...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 134-136
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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