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)

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Speaker Articles Index

Articles for The Speaker

Below are links to the articles and other pieces that Chesterton wrote for The Speaker. In all, I have found 112 pieces (including 12 poems and 3 letters). I believe that I have included all that he wrote for that paper, but I could have overlooked some.

I have decided to also include those which were later reprinted in books and already available online (such as in The Defendant and Twelve Types, etc.) for two reasons. First, for the sake of completeness, but also for the fact that for some of them, there are some differences between the original article, and the form it took when published in a book. (For instance, his article "St. Francis of Assisi" of December 1, 1900 has a passage not included when it was reprinted in Twelve Types.). For any such articles, after the title I include in brackets the book it was later reprinted in (sometimes with alterations, as mentioned above), if I am aware of it.

Please forgive any typos in the pieces.

Also, if you wish for these pieces as a printed book, you can go here

Sunday, April 27, 2014

P.D. James on GKC

Chesterton never wrote an inelegant or clumsy sentence. The Father Brown stories are brilliantly written in a style richly complex, imaginative, vigorous, poetic, and spiced with paradoxes. He was an artist as well as a writer and he sees life with an artist's eye. He wanted his readers to share that poetic vision, to see the romance and numinousness in commonplace things.
-P.D. James, Introduction to Father Brown: The Essential Tales (Modern Library Classics)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

"Humanity never produces optimists till it has ceased to produce happy men."

I know it is all very strange. From the height of eight hundred years ago, or of eight hundred years hence, our age must look incredibly odd. We call the twelfth century ascetic. We call our own time hedonist and full of praise and pleasure. But in the ascetic age the love of life was evident and enormous, so that it had to be restrained. In an hedonist age pleasure has always sunk low, so that it has to be encouraged. How high the sea of human happiness rose in the Middle Ages, we now only know by the colossal walls that they built to keep it in bounds. How low human happiness sank in the twentieth century our children will only know by these extraordinary modern books, which tell people that it is a duty to be cheerful and that life is not so bad after all. Humanity never produces optimists till it has ceased to produce happy men. It is strange to be obliged to impose a holiday like a fast, and to drive men to a banquet with spears. But this shall be written of our time: that when the spirit who denies besieged the last citadel, blaspheming life itself, there were some, there was one especially, whose voice was heard and whose spear was never broken."
-George Bernard Shaw (1909)
H/T to G.K. Chesterton Facebook page

Friday, April 25, 2014


Today I found this article that GKC wrote in 1901 for The Speaker about a mine disaster that had occurred in that year. It includes a great tribute to miners, and living in Eastern Kentucky, it seems something that many of my friends around here would no doubt appreciate, so I have decided to post the full article on here.

"Rich [Mullins] once literally forced me to read Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton."

Rich [Mullins] once literally forced me to read Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton. I vividly remember him sitting across from me while I read the first chapter, craning his neck to see what page I was on, fidgeting in excitement and anticipation, hardly able to contain himself. I was rather self-consciously aware that he was studying my face, waiting for my reaction when I got to the good parts. Within the first few lines of chapter I, Chesterton explains that Orthodoxy was written as an answer to a critic who had challenged him to support his ideas and explain his philosphy. "It was perhaps an incautious suggestion," Chesterton says of the critic's challenge, "to make to a person only too ready to write books upon the feeblest provocation." Rich waited impatiently for me to read that line and then roared it out loud- "only too ready to write books upon the feeblest provocation!"- and slapped his knee as he relished a favorite punch line.
-Wrestling with Angels: Adventures in Faith and Doubt, Carolyn Arends, p. 39 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

"...the superiority that is based upon mere century...is the most snobbish of all."

Among the intellectual habits of Mr. Dadson which put me into some antagonism with him at the start, may be placed foremost that singular superstition of progress which supposes that the twentieth century has some kind of inevitable and talismanic superiority to the tenth. I cannot see that fatalism is rendered any the better for being optimistic fatalism. There is a snobbish superiority which is based on rank, another that is based on wealth, but I honestly think that the superiority that is based upon mere century, upon a handful of historical dates, is the most snobbish of all.
-July 27, 1901, The Speaker

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"The small man believes in the cleverness of his utterances, the great man believes in their obviousness."

And there is nothing more characteristic of the really great men of history than that they treated the average man as a man who would naturally understand their gospel. The small man believes in the cleverness of his utterances, the great man believes in their obviousness. By the divine paradox of things it is always the superior man who believes in equality. To take the loftiest of all examples, no one can read the great sayings of the New Testament without feeling that they are dominated by an appeal to a cosmic common sense. Their characteristic note is a reasonable surprise. "What man of you having a hundred sheep-"; "What man of you, having a son-"- these are the utterances of a Dvine equality.
-April 12, 1902, The Speaker

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"The abstract is the symbol of the concrete"

But he is enslaved by the one great fallacy of the mystics, that mysticism, religion and poetry have to do with the abstract. Thinkers of Mr. Waite’s school have a tendency to believe that the concrete is the symbol of the abstract. The truth, the truth at the root of all true mysticism, is quite the other way. The abstract is the symbol of the concrete. This may possibly seem at first sight a paradox; but it is a purely transcendental truth. We see a green tree; it is the green tree which we cannot understand; it is the green tree which we fear; it is the green tree which we worship. Then because there are so many green trees, so many men, so many elephants, so many butterflies, so many daisies, so many animalculae, we coin a general term “Life.” And then the mystic comes and says that a green tree symbolises Life. It is not so. Life symbolises a green tree. Just in so far as we get into the abstract, we get away from the reality, we get away from the mystery, we get away from the tree. And this is the reason that so many transcendental discourses are merely blank and tedious to us, because they have to do with Truth and Beauty, and the Destiny of the Soul, and all the great, faint, faded symbols of the reality. And this is why all poetry is so interesting to us, because it has to do with skies, with woods, with battles, with temples, with women and with wine, with the ultimate miracles which no philosopher could create. The difference between the concrete and the abstract is the difference between the country and the town. God made the concrete, but man made the abstract. A truthful man is a miracle, but the truth is a commonplace.
-May 31, 1902, The Speaker

Monday, April 21, 2014

"Happiness in this den of oppression has to be rebuked like a mob riot. Misery, in this vale of misery, has to be preached like a curious piece of refinement."

Once there was a decadent who expressed all the views of his school about Dickens by waving his hands in the air lightly and saying, “a vulgar optimist.” The phrase is a common one, and he would no doubt have preferred an uncommon phrase. But though he did not know it, he was in truth uttering a paradox more brilliant than all those of his school, a paradox in two words and a paradox justifying and exalting all the things they both detested—the unwise, the ordinary life, the ignorant and the mob. For what a concentrated and startling notion is packed into the phrase “a vulgar optimist.” Of all queer things in a queer world this surely is the queerest, that "optimism" should be “vulgar.” In an old and sad and enigmatic world in which burdens lie heavy upon all and especially heavy upon the majority, in which only a few have ever attained to leisure or self-culture, in which the overwhelming mass has toiled desperately between the breast and the grave from the beginning of time—it is yet the sublime riddle that a cheerful philosophy is not derided as insane, but simply despised as common-place. A rich and elegant class look down at optimism, and what they have to complain of is that it is too widespread; they look down at the wretched toilers, and what they have to complain of is that they are too “jolly.” Happiness in this den of oppression has to be rebuked like a mob riot. Misery, in this vale of misery, has to be preached like a curious piece of refinement.

There is that about the human race that makes us feel that it has never done exactly as it should have done on rationalistic lines. There are instances of this too numerous to detail, but they keep strong that dark doubt of rationalism, that revolt below a revolt, which is so characteristic of this time. One would think, for instance, that primitive people would have been materialistic, would have sharpened and perfected the tools that conquer the earth and the foods that fill the belly. Instead of that we find that they were idiots at practical matters, but made themselves really remarkable by singing the most exquisite poems and starting the deepest arguments about metaphysics. One would think that early poems, however vigorous, would be coarse and lustful ; instead of that, barbaric literature, like the Iliad, is generally very pure, and civilised literature, like the Arabian Nights, full of a revolting candour. And whatever one might think would ever happen to be said against optimism, nobody could possibly have imagined, in the abstract, that it would be called vulgar. One would have imagined that whatever there was to say against the world would be said by the poor and the coerced; that whatever there was to say for it would be said by the prosperous and the free. But in this divine topsy-turvydom in which we live the very reverse has been the fact. Of the pessimists, the great majority have been aristocrats, like Byron or Swinburne. Of the optimists, the vast majority have risen, like Dickens, from the people.
-July 18, 1903, The Speaker