Happy Birthday, G.K. Chesterton!

When asked to list my ten Desert Island Books, I always include G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. So I would be embarrassed if I did not mark today’s importance.

From today’s Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of the novelist and essayist G.K. (Gilbert Keith) Chesterton, (books by this author) born in London, England (1874). He’s remembered today for his detective novels about the bumbling, crime-solving priest Father Brown, but during his lifetime he was primarily known as an essayist. He wrote constantly, about politics, society, literature, and religion. He was one of the first critics to argue that Charles Dickens was a great novelist, after the decline of his reputation in the early 20th century. He was one of the first people to argue that the influence of religion on public life would be replaced by the influence of advertisements.

Here are a few of my favorite G.K. Chesterton quotes:

- “The point of an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid.”

- “Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.”

- “The artistic temperament is a disease that afflicts amateurs.”

- “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.”

- “The aim of good prose words is to mean what they say. The aim of good poetical words is to mean what they do not say.”

- “You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion.”

- “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.”

- “All science, even the divine science, is a sublime detective story. Only it is not set to detect why a man is dead; but the darker secret of why he is alive.”

- “There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.”

- “These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own.”

- “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

- “The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.”

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” called Through a Screen Darkly, and a four-volume series of fantasy novels called The Auralia Thread, which includes Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. Jeffrey is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, and he writes about art, faith, and culture for Image, Filmwell, and his own website, LookingCloser.org. His work has also appeared in Paste, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today (where he was a film columnist and critic for almost a decade). He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffreyoverstreethq.

  • facesunveiled

    Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday is one of my favorite novels. It starts off as a funny spy novel, but there’s a reversal near the end that turns it into a staggering picture of God. It reminded me of the end of Till We Have Faces (C.S. Lewis’s best novel).

  • http://withashout.net ajamison

    Brilliant! My favorite author.

  • i4detail

    And let’s not forget my favourite quote (here paraphrased, cuz I am too lazy to get the exact words): Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.

  • clrussell

    Cool bit of trivia to learn to today, since today’s my birthday too. :-)


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