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)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

"Murder, for instance, is quite overrated, aesthetically"

It is really time that the absurd pretence of the vices to be romantic were given up. Ever since the time of Byron there has been vague and foolish conception clinging to all men's minds that there is some connection between lawlessness and poetry, between orderly images and disorderly acts. A thousand instances might be given to show the shallowness of this idea. For instance, blasphemy has been regarded as something bold and splendid, as if the very essence of blasphemy were not the commonplace. It is the very definition of profanity that it thinks and speaks of certain things prosaically, which other men think and speak of poetically. It is thus a defeat of the imagination, and a volume full of the wildest pictures and most impious jests remains in its essential character a piece of poor literalism, a humdrum affair. The same general truth might be pursued through all the Ten Commandments. Murder, for instance, is quite overrated, aesthetically. I am assured by persons on whose judgment I rely, and whose experience has, presumably, been wide, that the feelings of a murderer are of a quite futile character. What could be stupider than kicking to pieces, like a child, a machine you know nothing about, the variety and ingenuity of which should keep any imaginative person watching it delightedly day and night? Say we are acquainted with such a human machine; let us say, a rich uncle. A human engine is inexhaustible in its possibilities; however long and unrewarding has been our knowledge of the avuncular machine, we never know that the very moment that we lift the assassin's knife the machine is not about to grind forth some exquisite epigram which it would make life worth living to hear, or even, by some spasm of internal clockwork, produce a cheque. To kill him is clearly prosaic. Alive, he is a miracle; dead, he is merely a debris, a debris of unpleasant gore and quite inappropriate and old-fashioned clothes."

-March 29, 1902, The Speaker, "A Sermon on Cheapness"

Found in The Apostle and the Wild Ducks (collection of essays first published in 1975)


kitty said...

Brilliant. (Somehow, Charles Dickens and his ilk managed to write tolerably well without littering their works with R-rated content... I've noticed that since such things became commonplace, the quality of media has dropped- older movies have to really on plot and artistic beauty to sell, whereas modern ones tempt people with vice, at the cost of quality- and books are following the same pattern.)

Mike said...

Good point!