lunedì 14 aprile 2014

Marshall McLuhan, chestertoniano, convertito grazie a GKC

1 commento:

Angelo ha detto...

McLuhan's understanding of the world began to take form in the late 1920s. The English-speaking intellectual world of the early twentieth century was a very lively one, with many authors writing essays and commentary in magazines and newspapers. McLuhan even penned some articles for his college newspaper, the University of Manitoba's The Manitoban, between 1930 and 1934.

Out of the hundreds who tried to make a living as what might be called "public intellectuals" in this time, there are a handful who stand out as the most successful, appearing constantly in multiple venues, writing essays, books, poetry, and plays, as well as giving public speeches and holding debates with each other. Of these, there are four who were so widely read that they became virtual household names--the pair of George Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells was commonly contrasted with the pair of Hilaire Belloc and G. K. Chesterton.

As befits their prodigious talents as writers and larger-than-life personas, there was a significant audience who gravitated to the Fabian-tinged opinions of Shaw and Wells, while many others gravitated to the Christianframed opinions of Belloc and Chesterton--two critics who were such close friends and so often together that they were dubbed "Chesterbelloc" by Shaw.

McLuhan joined the Chesterbelloc camp while still an undergraduate in Winnipeg and pursued his interest in these authors with considerable excitement when he arrived at Cambridge University pursuing a Ph.D. in late 1934. He bought their books and read their essays. He traveled to London to hear Chesterton speak and even joined their "political" movement, the Distributist League. In 1936, at the age of 25, McLuhan's first published article was titled "G. K. Chesterton: A Practical Mystic" (Dalhousie Review).

Hilaire Belloc was the senior of the two--born in France in 1870, he became a naturalized British subject in 1902, having lived in England since he was two, where he remained until his death in 1953. Gilbert Keith Chesterton was born in 1874 and lived in England until his death in 1936. Belloc was a lifelong Catholic, while Chesterton converted from Anglicanism in 1922. Belloc wrote upwards of 150 books, including more than 30 on English and French history, as well as many volumes of fiction and satire, while Chesterton wrote around 80 books, hundreds of poems, about 200 short stories, as many as 4,000 essays, and several plays. According to Marshall's son Eric McLuhan, his father read "nearly all" of what both authors wrote, a feat likely unmatched by McLuhan with any other writers.