“Let me introduce you to my friend Gilbert Keith,” was how a fellow student in college told me about G. K. Chesterton. He is a fascinating man, and someone very quotable.
Chesterton was born May 29, 1874 in London, England. He is known as a poet, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, orator, lay theologian, biographer, and literary and art critic. In modern times, he is probably best known as the creator of the Father Brown detective stories, currently brilliantly played by Mark Williams (Mr Weasley from the Harry Potter films.)
In his time, though, he was more well known as an essayist. Time Magazine said about him, “Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out.” He was a memorable figure. He stood 6 feet, 4 inches tall, and weighed 280 pounds. With his quick wit, he loved to debate such figures as Bernard Shaw, but he was also very absent-minded. It is reported that on several occasions he sent a telegram to his wife Frances from some distant (and incorrect) location, writing such things as “Am in Market Harborough. Where ought I to be?” to which she would reply, “Home”
About him, Wikipedia says, “Chesterton wrote around 80 books, several hundred poems, some 200 short stories, 4000 essays, and several plays. He was a literary and social critic, historian, playwright, novelist, Catholic theologian and apologist, debater, and mystery writer. He was a columnist for the Daily News, The Illustrated London News, and his own paper, G. K.’s Weekly; he also wrote articles for the Encyclopædia Britannica, including the entry on Charles Dickens and part of the entry on Humour in the 14th edition (1929).” His best known nonfiction is Orthodoxy, about the Christian faith, and his best known single fictional work is The Man Who is Thursday, which is quite the challenge to read.
He influenced such widely differing people as C. S. Lewis, and Neil Gaiman, where he appears in one of the stories in the Sandman graphic novels.
Chesterton died June 14, 1936 of congestive heart failure.
Here are some my favorite Gilbert Keith Chesterton quotes. There are a lot of them, because he is one of my favorite quotable people.
An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered. (my absolute favorite)
Children are innocent and love justice, while most adults are wicked and prefer mercy.
The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried. (What’s Wrong With the World)
The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world. (Generally Speaking)
Everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace.
A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author. (Heretics)
I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.
The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.
The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.
The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children.
Do not free a camel of the burden of his hump; you may be freeing him from being a camel.
Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a colored pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling.
There are no uninteresting things, only uninterested people.
Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.
Do not be so open-minded that your brains fall out.
To be clever enough to get all that money, one must be stupid enough to want it. (The Wisdom of Father Brown)
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