Chesterton: The Nightmare Goodness of God

Front Cover
Baylor University Press, 2011 - Literary Criticism - 342 pages
2 Reviews
The literary giant G. K. Chesterton is often praised as the "Great Optimist"--God's rotund jester. In this fresh and daring endeavor, Ralph Wood turns a critical eye on Chesterton's corpus to reveal the beef-and-ale believer's darker vision of the world and those who live in it. During an age when the words grace, love, and gospel, sound more hackneyed than genuine, Wood argues for a recovery of Chesterton's primary contentions: First, that the incarnation of Jesus was necessary reveals a world full not of a righteous creation but of tragedy, terror, and nightmare, and second, that the problem of evil is only compounded by a Christianity that seeks progress, political control, and cultural triumph.


Wood's sharp literary critique moves beyond formulaic or overly pious readings to show that, rather than fleeing from the ghoulish horrors of his time, Chesterton located God's mysterious goodness within the existence of evil. Chesterton seeks to reclaim the keen theological voice of this literary authority who wrestled often with the counterclaims of paganism. In doing so, it argues that Christians may have more to learn from the unbelieving world than is often supposed.

What people are saying - Write a review

Review: Chesterton: The Nightmare Goodness of God (The Making of the Christian Imagination)

User Review  - Jeremy - Goodreads

I used part of this book (Ch. 6) for my Old English presentation on Alfred the Great (October 31, 2013). I read the same chapter more carefully on April 9, 2015, in preparation to lead an Honors ... Read full review

Review: Chesterton: The Nightmare Goodness of God (The Making of the Christian Imagination)

User Review  - Robert Balfour - Goodreads

This was a very excellent book. I bought it to help me understand Chesterton better. Chesterton is one of God's great gifts to the English language. I've listened to more of Chesterton than I've read ... Read full review

About the author (2011)

Ralph C. Wood is University Professor of Theology and Literature at Baylor University. He is the author of Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South and Literature and Theology.

Bibliographic information