Lazu: Gilbert Keith Chesterton is the other author you have written much about. What is Chestertons place in the literature of the twentieth century? How can the specific features of his works be summarized?
Pearce: Without doubt, Chesterton is a major figure in several areas. As a popular Catholic apologist he is perhaps without equal; as an essayist he is one of the finest prose stylists of the century; as a poet his work is very uneven but his finest verse deserves a place in any reputable anthology of twentieth century poetry, e.g. Lepanto, The Donkey, The Rolling English Road, A Second Childhood, The Skeleton, The Fish etc. As a novelist his work is also uneven and of variable quality, but his finest novel, The Man who was Thursday, ranks as one of the most important novels of the last century.
Lazu: It is hard to imagine that Catholic writers are well received by non-Christian literary critics in Central Europe. What is the situation in Great Britain and the United States as far as non-Catholic criticism authors such as Chesterton, Tolkien, Lewis, etc.?
Pearce: I am pleasantly surprised at the number of times that Chesterton is quoted in the secular press in Britain and America; Tolkien is now taken more seriously than ever before, partly because of the huge success of Jackson's films but also because The Lord of the Rings has passed the test of time and has forced itself into the canon in spite of the hostility of many critics and academics to its resolutely Christian and conservative ethos; Lewis remains hugely influential in Christian circles, both Protestant and Catholic, and the forthcoming film adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe might catapult him back into the popular mainstream; Waugh's Brideshead Revisited is widely accepted as one of the great novels of the twentieth century even amongst liberal critics hostile to its Catholic traditionalism.
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