A month or so ago, I mentioned the late 19th and early 20th century writer (and journalist, and theologian, poet, literary and art critic, essayist, apologist, orator, philosopher…) G. K. Chesterton in a sermon. A few weeks later a gentleman from my church gave me a present: a 1936 collection of his stories, essays and poems, which I’ve been dipping in and out of ever since.
Several things have struck me about Chesterton’s writing, including its clarity and lucidity, and the relevance of much of what he had to say to life in today’s society. The essay ‘A Defence of Skeletons’, for example, is a criticism of the social obsession with youth and beauty that could have be posted in a blog last week. ‘French and English’ makes a powerful point about the difference between appreciating another culture and attempting to appropriate (or assimilate) into it: it is an argument for delighting in differences rather than attempting to deny, or better yet erase, them.
His poems shimmer with a delight in the ordinary which elevates, even sanctifies it – quite intentionally, for Chesterton was a man of deep Christian conviction.
Apart from this collection, I have only read a few of Chesterton’s works: some of his Father Brown stories; a short story ‘The Wild Goose Chase at the Kingdom of the Birds’, written when he was just eighteen; and his most celebrated work, the apologetic (in the sense of ‘offering an explanation and defense of the Christian faith’) ‘Orthodoxy’.
Are you familiar with Chesterton’s work? What do you think of it?