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The Ball and the Cross

The Ball and the Cross by G. K. Chesterton
By: (1874-1936)

The Ball and the Cross is G. K. Chesterton's third novel. In the introduction Martin Gardner notes that it is a "mixture of fantasy, farce and theology." Gardner continues: "Evan MacIan is a tall, dark-haired, blue-eyed Scottish Highlander and a devout Roman Catholic.... James Turnbull is a short, red-haired, gray-eyed Scottish Lowlander and a devout but naive atheist.... The two meet when MacIan smashes the window of the street office where Turnbull publishes an atheist journal. This act of rage occurs when MacIan sees posted on the shop's window a sheet that blasphemes the Virgin Mary, presumably implying she was an adulteress who gave birth to an illegitimate Jesus. When MacIan challenges Turnbull to a duel to the death, Turnbull is overjoyed. For twenty years no one had paid the slightest attention to his Bible bashing. Now at last someone is taking him seriously! Most of the rest of the story is a series of comic events in which the two enemies wander about seeking a spot for their duel." MacIan and Turnbull become friends as they protect each other from interference from the modern world, which has trivialized their views over life's most important question (the existence of God) and outlawed their honorable duel. The irony is heightened when they both fall in love with ladies who happen to hold to their opponent's deepest convictions. Professor Lucifer and a Bulgarian monk also play important roles in this perennially relevant story.

First Page:


G.K. Chesterton


I. A Discussion Somewhat in the Air II. The Religion of the Stipendiary Magistrate III. Some Old Curiosities IV. A Discussion at Dawn V. The Peacemaker VI. The Other Philosopher VII. The Village of Grassley in the Hole VIII. An Interlude of Argument IX. The Strange Lady X. The Swords Rejoined XI. A Scandal in the Village XII. The Desert Island XIII. The Garden of Peace XIV. A Museum of Souls XV. The Dream of MacIan XVI. The Dream of Turnbull XVII. The Idiot XVIII. A Riddle of Faces XIX. The Last Parley XX. Dies Irae


The flying ship of Professor Lucifer sang through the skies like a silver arrow; the bleak white steel of it, gleaming in the bleak blue emptiness of the evening. That it was far above the earth was no expression for it; to the two men in it, it seemed to be far above the stars. The professor had himself invented the flying machine, and had also invented nearly everything in it... Continue reading book >>

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Reviews (Rated: 4 Stars - 3 reviews)

Reviewer: - April 8, 2018
Subject: Almost awesome
The reader of the first section is excellent. But then the lady takes over. The lady who ends every sentence as if she is striking a C, then a G, then an E, on a piano. Her delivery is so sing-song and artificial that I am forced to discard any piece of listening literature onto which she forces herself. I could not finish this one.
Reviewer: - June 23, 2017
Subject: The book
A Wonderful Book!
Reviewer: - September 15, 2014
Disappointing as the story started well with a particularly good reader who did variations of the Scottish accent very well While the American lady, I'm sure did her best, a little research into English pronunciation would have made the accent bearable and I was unable to listen after chapter 10

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