Posts Tagged ‘G.K. Chesterton’

Over at Salon.com a new Flannery O’Connor biography was reviewed.  I was surprised to learn of the animosity between her and Carson McCullers.  Having studied Southern Gothic Literature in college I was happy to read this review of her biography. It mentions G. K. Chesterton in passing, relating his Catholic faith to Ms. O’Connor’s.  Here is the link to the article:


Her influence is mentioned but not proved in the article so I guess one must read Brad Gooch’s “Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor” in order to discover her trickle-down effect.

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I have never read anything of Mr. Chesterton’s until this book. I read somewhere of his friendship with Hilaire Belloc and I thought I would give this one a try over anything else out there.  I was pleasantly suprised throughout.  Mr. Chesterton, in his grand manner, fought all the dipstick, penny philosphers of his day and he did it with aplomb. To read his book though is not to get a sense of what he did-and all the miniscule events he lived through-but more of a sense of who he was.

For his book on Browning he states that “I will not say that I wrote a book on Browning; but I wrote a book on love, liberty, poetry, my own view on God and religion (highly undeveloped), and various theories of my own about optimism and pessimism and the hope of the world; a book in which the name of Browning was introduced from time to time, I might almost say with considerable art, or at any rate with some decent appearance of regularity.”  The Autobiography follows much in the same way as the Browning book. But in his defense, to read Chesterton is to know Chesterton, for he is alway inserting such comments and advice and observations such as “In short, as it seems to me, it matters very little whether a man is discontented in the name of pessimism or progress, if his discontent does in fact paralyse his power of appreciating what he has got. The real difficulty of man is not to enjoy lamp-posts or landscapes, not to enjoy dandelions or chops; but to enjoy enjoyment. To keep the capacity of really liking what he likes: that is the practical problem which the philosopher has to solve.”

Chesterton, like Balzac, was altar and throne to the core. His conservative values and writings do much to light a negative picture of a very turbulent time. What I’m getting at is that Chesterton could have rode the radical wave and for his part have been the Mencken of England, which in some aspects I think he can be considered so, but he chose a different, harder path that lead him to say things like: “Whereas I am incurably convinced that the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

Having read these differnet selections from the book you, the reader, are now left with a choice. Choose to read a bit of Chesterton or not. I have read that his Father Brown stories are quite good.

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