The Ball and the Cross

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Cover of first edition

The Ball and the Cross is a novel by G. K. Chesterton. The title refers to a more worldly and rationalist worldview, represented by a ball or sphere, and the cross representing Christianity. The first chapters of the book were serialized from 1905 to 1906[1] with the completed work published in 1909. The novel's beginning involves debates about rationalism and religion between a Professor Lucifer and a monk named Michael. A part of this section was quoted in Pope John Paul I's Illustrissimi letter to G. K. Chesterton.[2] Much of the rest of the book concerns the dueling, figurative and somewhat more literal, of a Jacobite Catholic named Maclan and an atheist Socialist named Turnbull.[3] Lynette Hunter has argued that the novel is more sympathetic to Maclan, but does indicate Maclan is also presented as in some ways too extreme.[4] Turnbull, as well, is presented in a sympathetic light: both duelists are ready to fight for and die for their antagonistic opinions and, in doing so, develop a certain partnership that evolves into a friendship. The real antagonist is the world outside, which desperately tries to prevent from happening a duel over "mere religion" (a subject both duelists judge of utmost importance).


  1. ^ William Oddie (6 November 2008). Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy: The Making of GKC, 1874-1908. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-161486-6.
  2. ^ Pope John Paul I (1 January 1976). Illustrissimi: The Letters of Pope John Paul I. Gracewing Publishing. pp. 27–28. ISBN 978-0-85244-549-5.
  3. ^ David Langford (August 2003). Up Through an Empty House of Stars. Wildside Press LLC. pp. 75–78. ISBN 978-1-59224-055-5.
  4. ^ Harold Bloom (1 January 2009). G. K. Chesterton. Infobase Publishing. pp. 56–58. ISBN 978-1-4381-1301-2.

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