In Defense of Sanity
Publisher: Ignatius Press
Publication Date: 2011-10-18
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G.K. Chesterton was a master essayist. But reading his essays is not just an exercise in studying a literary form at its finest, it is an encounter with timeless truths that jump off the page as fresh and powerful as the day they were written.
The only problem with Chesterton's essays is that there are too many of them. Over five thousand! For most GKC readers it is not even possible to know where to start or how to begin to approach them.
So three of the world's leading authorities on Chesterton - Dale Ahlquist, Joseph Pearce, Aidan Mackey - have joined together to select the "best" Chesterton essays, a collection that will be appreciated by both the newcomer and the seasoned student of this great 20th century man of letters.
The variety of topics are astounding: barbarians, architects, mystics, ghosts, fireworks, rain, juries, gargoyles and much more. Plus a look at Shakespeare, Dickens, Jane Austen, George MacDonald, T.S. Eliot, and the Bible. All in that inimitable, formidable but always quotable style of GKC. Even more astounding than the variety is the continuity of Chesterton's thought that ties everything together. A veritable feast for the mind and heart.
While some of the essays in this volume may be familiar, many of them are collected here for the first time, making their first appearance in over a century.
G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) was a prolific English journalist and author best known for his mystery series featuring the priest-detective Father Brown and for the metaphysical thriller The Man Who Was Thursday. Baptized into the Church of England, Chesterton underwent a crisis of faith as a young man and became fascinated with the occult. He eventually converted to Roman Catholicism and published some of Christianity's most influential apologetics, including Heretics and Orthodoxy.
The wit, insight and acrobatic practical orthodoxy of Chesterton are on full display here.
It's an anthology, spanning a wide range of original publications and printing dates.
The quality does vary, as does the genre. From the existential and experimental, to the civic issue focused, to the fighting off of the newly metastisized "Errors of Russia" or their local Marxist promoters, this volume delivers topicality and incisive judgments that will be sure, if not to comfort, at least to enlighten and to hearten you.
Lot's of fresh stuff. Having read Heretics and Orthodoxy multiple times, I noticed one redundant essay here.
I hopped around the book in the course of reading and keyed in on essays that happened to strike me. I recommend doing this.
The book includes 67 essays, some of which are published for the first time in this collection. The variety of topics covered is diverse and delightful.
There's something astounding about a volume that can contain a playful exposition about chasing your hat (and why it's fun and comical) and a serious discussion of why we need to understand philosophy.
I've heard Chesterton called a prophet, and reading a few of these essays made me understand why. He wrote a century ago, but his writing is relevant, real, and radical to us in the here-and-now.
This was one of my favorite recent reads. It's also a book that you would do well to put by your armchair and pick up every so often. You're sure to be amused and challenged in equal proportion and in ways that will surprise you.