A blog dedicated to providing quotes by and posts relating to one of the most influential (and quotable!) authors of the twentieth century, G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936). If you do not know much about GKC, I suggest visiting the webpage of the American Chesterton Society as well as this wonderful Chesterton Facebook Page by a fellow Chestertonian

I also have created a list detailing examples of the influence of Chesterton if you are interested, that I work on from time to time.

(Moreover, for a list of short GKC quotes, I have created one here, citing the sources)

"...Stevenson had found that the secret of life lies in laughter and humility."

-Heretics (1905)

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"The Speaker" Articles

A book I published containing 112 pieces Chesterton wrote for the newspaper "The Speaker" at the beginning of his career.

They are also available for free electronically on another blog of mine here, if you wish to read them that way.




Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"Prince Florizel is almost our favourite character in fiction; but we willingly add the proviso that if we met him in real life we should kill him."

A recent incident has finally convinced us that Stevenson was, as we suspected, a great man. We knew from recent books that we have noticed, from the scorn of 'Ephemera Critica' and Mr George Moore, that Stevenson had the first essential qualification of a great man: that of being misunderstood by his opponents. But from the book which Messrs Chatto & Windus have issued, in the same binding as Stevenson's works, 'Robert Louis Stevenson,' by Mr H. Bellyse Baildon, we learn that he has the other essential qualification, that of being misunderstood by his admirers...

...The author has most extraordinary ideas about Stevenson's tales of blood and spoil; he appears to think that they prove Stevenson to have had (we use Mr Baildon's own phrase) a kind of 'homicidal mania.' 'He (Stevenson) arrives pretty much at the paradox that one can hardly be better employed than in taking life.' Mr Baildon might as well say that Dr Conan Doyle delights in committing inexplicable crimes, that Mr Clark Russell is a notorious pirate, and that Mr Wilkie Collins thought that one could hardly be better employed than in stealing moonstones and falsifying marriage registers. But Mr Baildon is scarcely alone in this error: few people have understood properly the goriness of Stevenson. Stevenson was essentially the robust schoolboy who draws skeletons and gibbets in his Latin grammar. It was not that he took pleasure in death, but that he took pleasure in life, in every muscular and emphatic action of life, even if it were an action that took the life of another.

Let us suppose that one gentleman throws a knife at another gentleman and pins him to the wall. It is scarcely necessary to remark that there are in this transaction two somewhat varying personal points of view. The point of view of the man pinned is the tragic and moral point of view, and this Stevenson showed clearly that he understood in such stories as 'The Master of Ballantrae' and 'Weir of Hermiston.' But there is another view of the matter--that in which the whole act is an abrupt and brilliant explosion of bodily vitality, like breaking a rock with a blow of a hammer, or just clearing a five-barred gate. This is the standpoint of romance, and it is the soul of 'Treasure Island' and 'The Wrecker.' It was not, indeed, that Stevenson loved men less, but that he loved clubs and pistols more. He had, in truth, in the devouring universalism of his soul, a positive love for inanimate objects such as has not been known since St Francis called the sun brother and the well sister. We feel that he was actually in love with the wooden crutch that Silver sent hurtling in the sunlight, with the box that Billy Bones left at the 'Admiral Benbow,' with the knife that Wicks drove through his own hand and the table. There is always in his work a certain clean-cut angularity which makes us remember that he was fond of cutting wood with an axe....

...But Mr Baildon, whether from hasty reading or natural difference of taste, cannot in the least comprehend the rich and romantic irony of Stevenson's London stories. He actually says of that portentous monument of humour, Prince Florizel of Bohemia, that, 'though evidently admired by his creator, he is to me on the whole rather an irritating presence.' From this we are almost driven to believe (though desperately and against our will) that Mr Baildon thinks that Prince Florizel is to be taken seriously, as if he were a man in real life. For ourselves, Prince Florizel is almost our favourite character in fiction; but we willingly add the proviso that if we met him in real life we should kill him.

-Twelve Types (1902)

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