Defining Work

This collection harkens back to a bygone era when the essay was a common medium of the literary artist.  As one can pick up a volume of essays by G.K. Chesterton or Hilaire Belloc nearly a century after their first publication and still be enthralled and enchanted by their freshness and continuing relevance, the same may someday be said of Beauteous Truth, a compendium of literary essays by widely published Catholic author Joseph Pearce.

The volume is divided into five sections: Defining Our Terms, Celebrating Our Heritage, Literary Landscapes, Literary Portraits, and Self-Portraits.  The first section’s title echoes a bit of advice Pearce received as a young man.  While it strikes one as common sense, it is significant for the fact that, at the time it was uttered, Pearce was, in the words of Auberon Waugh, a “wretched youth” immersed in a world of racism and nonsense:

There was one older person in my youth whom I took seriously, largely, I’m sure, because his prejudices reflected mine. . . . He was something of a mentor and I remember he would often begin a discussion with an insistence that we define our terms.  If we were discussing capitalism, or communism, or free trade, or the free market, or private property, he would always begin by asking me to define what I meant by these things. . . . Although I was sometimes...

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