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Lepanto Paperback – April 5, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


"A valuable reference book that is also a great read!" -- Therese Warmus, Literary Editor, Gilbert Magazine

About the Author

G.K. Chesterton was one of the most prolific and renowned literary writers of the 20th Century. Dale Ahlquist, author of G.K. Chesterton: Apostle of Common Sense, is the President of the American Chesterton Society.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 124 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (April 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586170309
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586170301
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #287,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Jack Lamont on August 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
A few months after completing his semi-well known epic, "The Ballad of the White Horse", Chesterton undertook putting a different battle into poem; that battle was Lepanto.

Lepanto is an important sea battle that took place between European and Turkish forces in the 1600's. It is often remembered as an `almost' for the West, since if the Turkish forces had won, there was a good chance that Italy would have fallen under their influence as a result. Most likely, the reason why the Europeans won was because they were under the command of Austrian Don John, the illegitimate son of the Holy Roman Emperor, and half brother to the King of Spain. But this is mostly told in the scholarly essays that are included in the book.

But that may the important thing to note: the poem which is this book's namesake....only takes up ten pages. The rest of its 124 pages are taken up by excellent essays by military, literary, and historical scholars. (A warning to Muslims and Protestants: While they are respectful in their stances, they are most certainly pro-Catholic, pro-West in their writing; much like Chesterton was. Don't be surprised if you get bashed a bit, as this Protestant reader was.)While they offer excellent insights into the poem, it's a little disappointing to find out you won't be reading Chesterton's excellent prose for much of the book, save for the poem and two essays of his.

But oh, what poetry it is. When it was released in 1911, Lepanto became a national epic in months. By WWI soldiers were writing him telling of how they would read his poem on the battlefield. Lepanto recounts the glory of Don John in an elegant, flowing manner.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jesse Rouse on March 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
I got this book expecting it to be an epic poem similar to Chesterton's Ballad of the White Horse. I was very disappointed to find out that it was an 8 page poem with 100+ pages of commentary. I was not as disappointed after reading it. The poem was absolutely amazing. Chesterton used alliteration better in this poem than I have ever seen it used in any other poem anywhere, with lines like: "Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard" or "He touches, and it tingles, and he trembles very soon." Chesterton also fills the poem with rich allegory and drama, as he recounts the epic battle of Lepanto between Christendom and the rising Muslim power. This battle, which the essays in this book elaborate on, was one of the most important battles ever fought in histry, as it determined who would dominate Europe: Christians or Muslims. At Lepanto, Christendom, led by Don John of Austria, defeated the Muslims in one of the greatest naval battles ever fought, effectively stopping the advancing Muslims from taking over Europe. Chesterton masterfully recounts this event, and the events leading up to it. He also describes the rulers of Christendom at the time (it was right after the Protestant Reformation) and their refusal to fight (only Don John of Austria took up the Pope's plea to battle the Muslims). A previous reviewer noted that Chesterton bashed Protestants and Muslims: this is true, but he also bashed some Catholic rulers as well, so he is not singling out Protestants. It is true that he is anti-Muslim, and a theme of the poem is the Christianity triumphs over Islam (he depicts well the deterministic fatalism of Islam).

The commentary is helpful as well, providing explanations of many of Chesterton's allegories, as well as explaining some of the obscure terms Chesterton uses.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Oswald Sobrino on December 26, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book on Chesterton's Lepanto is full of interesting details surrounding the battle. The book is of special interest to Catholics because of its connection to a Marian feast still celebrated on the date of the famous battle and other tidbits. There is also a literary point of interest arising from the fact that Cervantes served with the Christian fleet and was wounded in the battle. The poem highlights a neglected but crucial event in the Western struggle with Islamic expansionism.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Essex on September 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
Lepanto is one of, if not the, finest poem in the English language. It is ignored in most schools. Yet few who read it are not immediately impressed. Chesterton is never obscure but there are some references which need to be explained. This book does that in 124 pleasant to read pages. If you have enjoyed Blake or similiar writers but struggled through the allusions (as I have) this is the perfect book for you. In less than an hour, you will know more about a great poem than the majority of those who have read it. The price is certainly right and it's a book you'll keep forever (if you don't give it away to friends).
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ignotus on December 9, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Poem is one thing- the Book is another. The Poem is extraordinary. REAL PLEASURE FOR ANYONE WITH AN EAR FOR ENGLISH AND ITS RHYTHM, ASSONANCE ETC. The Book also is very good, giving the historical background- as also the Religious and theological pre-suppositions are provided. The whole subject of LEPANTO is obligatory reading for any Christian. Besides the Text of the Poem, there are also Notes and explanations about words etc.; there are also other Essays- the very delightful imaginary romance between Mary Queen of Scots and Don Jon of Austria by GKC himself. The Book is like a Primer for the un-initiated and for the price is money well spent. Let me repeat again- for the lover the English Language the Poem is an experience in the beauty of English Poetry. You will find yourself re-reading again and again lines and phrases. LEPANTO is the story of the victory and the salvation of Christian Civilisation. Of-course the Pope in Rome was very much involved. LEPANTO stirs the heart- and the Book is a good introduction to it. Highly recommended- please read and savor the "taste" of the English Language. And once again thanks to AMAZON for providing the Book as such a give-away price.
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