"Everyone quotes G.K. Cheston but nobody reads him." -- Isaac Anderson
G.K. Chesterton is hand down my favorite author. He could best be described as C.S. Lewis on crack. Chesterton was often times called "the master who left no masterpiece" since he was a newspaper columnist for most of his career. His works include philosophy, ontology, poetry, play writing, journalism, public lecturing and debating, biography, fantasy and detective fiction.
He was witty, poetic, and weighted over 300lbs. A kind of bumbling absent minded professor who would go out to buy groceries for his wife and then forget on the way what he was supposed to be doing.
Sounds like my kind of guy. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
"A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it." - Everlasting Man, 1925
"Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to fit the vision, instead we are always changing the vision." - Orthodoxy, 1908
"Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere." - ILN, 5/5/28
What I love most about Chesterton was that he was friends with all the people who disagreed with him. In a time when philosophical debate could fill a concert hall Chesterton wrote a book called Heretics which was essentially about all of his friends-- George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Mr. McCabe, Lowes Dickinson, Rudyard Kipling-- and other intellectual giants at the turn of the 20th century. They loved to debate, and they loved each other-- even though they thought each other were completely wrong and destroying Western Civilization.
My favorite book of his, and my favorite book ever written, is his spiritual autobiography entitled Orthodoxy. It tells of his sincere journey as an agnostic inventing his perfect life philosophy and, at each turn, how he discovered his perfect life philosophy is more ancient than he thought.
I often buy Chesterton in bulk to give away, more out of affection for the author than how helpful his books tend to be for my friends. It's a small book, but it took me a year to get through when I was 17 years old. I now read all or parts of Orthodoxy several times a year.
I highly recommend it to you as well.
Posted on Tue, June 8, 2010