Gilbert Keith Chesterton
English essayist and poet
Gilbert Keith Chesterton, KC*SG (29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936) was an English writer. He published works on philosophy, ontology, poetry, plays, journalism, public lectures and debates, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction. Chesterton has been called the "prince of paradox".
Kensington, London, England
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England
Gilbert Keith Chesterton was born in London, England on the 29th of May, 1874. Though he considered himself a mere "rollicking journalist," he was actually a prolific and gifted writer in virtually every area of literature. A man of strong opinions and enormously talented at defending them, his exuberant personality nevertheless allowed him to maintain warm friendships with people--such as George Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells--with whom he vehemently disagreed.
Chesterton had no difficulty standing up for what he believed. He was one of the few journalists to oppose the Boer War. His 1922 Eugenics and Other Evils attacked what was at that time the most progressive of all ideas, the idea that the human race could and should breed a superior version of itself. In the Nazi experience, history demonstrated the wisdom of his once "reactionary" views. His poetry runs the gamut from the comic The Logical Vegetarian to dark and serious ballads.
Though not written for a scholarly audience, his biographies of authors and historical figures like Charles Dickens and St. Francis of Assisi often contain brilliant insights into their subjects. His "Father Brown" mystery stories, written between 1911 and 1936, are still being read and adapted for television.
His politics fitted with his deep distrust of concentrated wealth and power of any sort. Along with his friend Hilaire Belloc and in books like the 1910 What's Wrong with the World he advocated a view called "Distributism" that is best summed up by his expression that every man ought to be allowed to own "three acres and a cow." Though not known as a political thinker, his political influence has circled the world. Some see in him the father of the "small is beautiful" movement and a newspaper article by him is credited with provoking Gandhi to seek a "genuine" nationalism for India. Orthodoxy belongs to yet another area of literature at which Chesterton excelled. A fun-loving and gregarious man, he was nevertheless troubled in his adolescence by thoughts of suicide. In Christianity he found the answers to the dilemmas and paradoxes he saw in life. Other books in that same series include his 1905 Heretics and its sequel Orthodoxy and his 1925 The Everlasting Man.
Chesterton died on the 14th of June, 1936 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. During his life he published 69 books and at least another ten have been published after his death. Many of those books are still in print.
Quotes by Gilbert Keith Chesterton
Works by Gilbert Keith Chesterton
The Club of Queer Trades is an elite, albeit quirky, society comprised of individuals who have each pioneered unique (and outrageous) methods of making a salary. Each of the short stories in this Chesterton collection involves a member of this peculiar organization. As these mysterious plots build, it is up to private detective Rupert Grant and his brother Basil to explain the strange events in which they find themselves. The ways in which the Grant brothers solve each case are as unique and whimsical as the cases and characters themselves. The Club of Queer Trades pokes fun at the elaborate deductive reasoning process required to solve Sherlock Holmes mysteries. G.K. Chesterton's characters are delightfully humorous and this entertaining series of short stories will keep its readers feeling enchanted and amused.
Sometimes it seems that nothing is more heretical than being orthodox. Westerners live in a world that celebrates rebels who step out of the norm and critique long held traditions and beliefs. In some cases, these rebels call attention to wrongs and abuses such as segregation and slavery, but there is a dark side to celebrating rebels. The ranks of those who rebel against traditional Christian beliefs grow increasingly vocal and proud of their defiance of God's Word. This is not a new phenomenon, but was noticed, documented, and critiqued in 1905 by G. K. Chesterton in his work Heretics. The eccentric Englishman employs his biting wit to expose heretics as wrong and dangerous. Although over 100 years old, Heretics is remarkably relevant to today's culture.
The first compilation of Father Brown short stories, The Innocence of Father Brown, is the best place to start when diving into the world of G.K. Chesterson's classic detective stories. Father Brown is introduced in the famous story "The Blue Cross," and lovers of mystery will become quickly entrenched in his world. Often labeled the intuitive cousin of Arthur Conan Doyle's deductive Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown priest turned detective who combines philosophical and spiritual reasoning with scientific observation to solve crimes. Chesterton, a Catholic, is literature's king of paradox as well as a social commentator, and his funny and insightful comparisons leave readers reeling. This volume contains 12 of the 52 Father Brown stories. The tales are short, easy reads with strong plots all connected by the clever detective with an above-average understanding of human nature. Begin the series here, and enter the world of Father Brown.
It seems a strange thing to mix theology with mystery fiction, but that is exactly what G. K. Chesterton did in his book of short stories, The Man Who Knew Too Much and other stories, published in 1922. The eight stories revolve around the detective, Horne Fisher, as he solves crimes occurring among the political elites in pre-war England. He is both aided and hindered in his efforts by the fact that he himself is so enmeshed in the lives of these politicians, due to friendships or familial ties. Often, he is forced to let the criminal get away lest greater chaos ensue. Throughout these stories, Fisher discusses the state of affairs with his friend, Harold March, and we come across many of Fisher’s philosophical and theological positions, which we can only deduce to reflect those of Chesterton. This is a fabulous and thrilling read, full of the intrigue and suspense of a good detective story, but also a brilliant reflection on how to make sense of the bad, and good, in all people.
It is very difficult to classify THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY. It is possible to say that it is a gripping adventure story of murderous criminals and brilliant policemen; but it was to be expected that the author of the Father Brown stories should tell a detective story like no-one else. On this level, therefore, THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY succeeds superbly; if nothing else, it is a magnificent tour-de-force of suspense-writing.
However, the reader will soon discover that it is much more than that. Carried along on the boisterous rush of the narrative by Chesterton's wonderful high-spirited style, he will soon see that he is being carried into much deeper waters than he had planned on; and the totally unforeseeable denouement will prove for the modern reader, as it has for thousands of others since 1908 when the book was first published, an inevitable and moving experience, as the investigators finally discover who Sunday is. [From the back cover.]
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An influential Christian author of the 20th century, G.K. Chesterton wrote Orthodoxy as a defense of the Christian faith. Meant to be a companion to Chesterton's Heretics, Orthodoxy constructs an "alternative philosophy" to the philosophies of the time. Chesterton explains both why he believes that Orthodox Christianity best explains human existence, and why he does not find other philosophies convincing. However, in defending Christianity, Chesterton does not avoid the paradox, wonder, or mystery of Christianity either. After all Orthodoxy is--as the author himself notes--also a spiritual and intellectual autobiography as well, with Chesterton providing illustrations and examples from his own life. In fact, because of the autobiographical element, many readers are pleasantly surprised by the wit and humor with which he tackles the difficult subjects in Christianity. An important defense of Christianity, G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy is a highly recommended, powerful, and winsome book.
In this mystery novella, G. K. Chesterton does what he does best – spins a tale of intrigue and suspense, strewn with philosophical and theological commentary. The story revolves around Squire Vane, who has imported three “peacock trees,” which, according to the locals, spread disease and eat people. The Squire dismisses these comments as mere superstition, but when three guests bring up the topic and anger the Squire, he storms off down to the trees to spend the night among them, to prove they aren’t dangerous. The next morning…he’s gone. His guests and a local doctor set out to discover what happened to him, and untangle a thoroughly knotted web. This is a brilliant exposition on a human’s ability and desire to believe in the supernatural, all wrapped up in a story of pride and arrogance.
G.K. Chesterton, along with C.S. Lewis, ranks among the most influential Christian intellectuals of the 20th century. In What’s Wrong with the World, Chesterton offers his characteristically incisive, witty analysis of the social and moral issues of his time. As he saw it, Christianity—if it was indeed the Truth—could and should engage every aspect of culture. “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting,” he famously wrote. “It has been found difficult; and left untried.” Many find Chesterton’s analysis just as insightful as it was nearly a century ago. Others, however, find Chesterton’s commentary on gender roles and feminism especially to be quite dated, despite a few interesting points.
This is the second compilation of Father Brown short stories, the first being The Innocence of Father Brown (a good place to start when diving into his world). Lovers of mystery will become quickly entrenched in the world of G.K. Chesterton's classic detective stories. Often labeled the intuitive cousin of Arthur Conan Doyle's deductive Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown is a priest turned detective who combines philosophical and spiritual reasoning with scientific observation to solve crimes. Chesterton, a Catholic, is literature's king of paradox as well as a social commentator, and his funny and insightful comparisons leave readers reeling. This volume contains 12 of the 52 Father Brown stories. The tales are short, easy reads with strong plots all connected by the clever detective with an above-average understanding of human nature. This second volume, Wisdom of Father Brown, will satisfy both fans of the series and newcomers alike.
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