Gilbert Keith Chesterton
Gilbert Keith Chesterton (29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936) was one of the most influential English writers of the 20th century. His prolific and diverse output included journalism, philosophy, poetry, biography, Christian apologetics, fantasy and detective fiction.
Chesterton has been called the “prince of paradox”. Time magazine, in a review of a biography of Chesterton, observed of his writing style: “Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories – first carefully turning them inside out.” For example, Chesterton wrote the following:
“Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it.”
Chesterton is well known for his reasoned apologetics and even those who disagree with him have recognized the universal appeal of such works as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. Chesterton, as political thinker, cast aspersions on both Liberalism and Conservatism, saying:
“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.”
Chesterton routinely referred to himself as an “orthodox” Christian, and came to identify such a position with Catholicism more and more, eventually converting to Roman Catholicism. George Bernard Shaw, Chesterton’s “friendly enemy” according to Time, said of him, “He was a man of colossal genius”.
Quotations by G.K. Chesterton
“My country, right or wrong,” is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, “My mother, drunk or sober.”
A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.
An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.
Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.
By a curious confusion, many modern critics have passed from the proposition that a masterpiece may be unpopular to the other proposition that unless it is unpopular it cannot be a masterpiece.
Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.
I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.
I say that a man must be certain of his morality for the simple reason that he has to suffer for it.
If there were no God, there would be no Atheists.
It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.
Journalism largely consists of saying ‘Lord Jones is Dead’ to people who never knew that Lord Jones was alive.
Man seems to be capable of great virtues but not of small virtues; capable of defying his torturer but not of keeping his temper.
Music with dinner is an insult both to the cook and the violinist.
Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.
The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.
The most astonishing thing about miracles is that they happen.
The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion.
There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and the tired man who wants a book to read.
To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.
You can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it.
There are no wise few. Every aristocracy that has ever existed has behaved, in all essential points, exactly like a small mob.
All slang is a metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry.
Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity.
The rich are the scum of the earth in every country.
There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.
The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.
Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.