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, April 23, 2016

Most of the things that are hinted in depreciation of Chaucer could be said as easily in depreciation of Shakespeare. If Chaucer borrowed from Boccaccio and other writers, Shakespeare borrowed from anybody or anything, and often from the same French or Italian sources as his forerunner. The answer indeed is obvious and tremendous; that if Shakespeare borrowed, he jolly well paid back.
-Chaucer (1932)

Friday, April 22, 2016


It is less noticed, but it is equally notable, that [they ...] do vaguely but honestly think it charitable to pardon a crime by saying it has never been committed [...]

[...] Not only are [positions like this] false, but they are not even kindly; they are not even white lies or well-meaning deceptions.  You cannot show mercy to what is not there.You do not sympathise with a sick man at all, if you do not sympathise with the reality of his sickness. You do not sympathise with a sinner at all, if you do not sympathise with his sense of sin.
-January 4, 1913, Daily News

Monday, April 18, 2016

...if we wish to protect the poor we shall be in favour of fixed rules and clear dogmas. The rules of a club are occasionally in favour of the poor member. The drift of a club is always in favour of the rich one.
-Orthodoxy (1908)
The first and most important thing about any man is his vision, or conception, of the universe. The colour of all his art or culture or practical politics will be taken in the last resort from the question whether the picture of existence at the back of his mind is the picture of a chaos, or an order, or a race, or a covenant, or a battle, or a garden, or a wheel. Every battle in history that was anything more than a disorderly military review was a battle of gods, a war of universes, a war of the worlds [...] A man's conception of existence is the only important thing. Upon this depends whether he will paint a gorgeous picture or a sad one. Upon this also depends whether he will paint a sad picture or merely jump over London Bridge.
-January 2, 1902, Daily News

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Well, one interesting fact I just discovered:

Alan Napier, who played Alfred the butler in the 1960's Batman television series, had also the following in his acting credits:
Magic, G.K. Chesterton. Oxford Playhouse, Oxford. February 15-20, 1926 (Dr. Grimthorpe)

[Source- Not Just Batman's Butler: The Autobiography of Alan Napier, p. 362 (2015)]

Friday, April 15, 2016

We do not want a censorship of the Press; but we are long past talking about that. At present it is not we that silence the Press; it is the Press that silences us. It is not a case of the Commonwealth settling how much the editors shall say; it is a case of the editors settling how much the Commonwealth shall know. If we attack the Press we shall be rebelling, not repressing.
-All Things Considered (1908)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

"Some of them will probably abuse their privilege; but we prefer the risk to that of the State or of the Trust, which abuses its omnipotence.”

We do not offer perfection; what we do offer is proportion. We wish to correct the proportions of the modern state; but proportion is between varied things; and proportion is hardly ever a pattern. It is as if we were drawing the picture of a living man and they thought we were drawing a diagram of wheels and rods for the construction of a Robot. We do not propose that in a healthy society all land should be held in the same way; or that all property should be owned on the same conditions; or that all citizens should have the same relation to the city. It is our whole point that the central power needs lesser powers to balance and check it, and that these must be of many kinds: some individual, some communal, some official and so on. Some of them will probably abuse their privilege; but we prefer the risk to that of the State or of the Trust, which abuses its omnipotence.
-The Outline of Sanity (1926)
[H/T to G.K. Chesterton Facebook Page

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

 [The following passage was obviously written in jest, though taken from a larger passage making a serious point, but I wanted to post it simply because I found it humorous.]

For my part, I believe that the Fall of Man was due to the introduction of the simple life. In a state of innocence our first ancestors (I suppose) ate beef and drank beer like Christians. Then came the Tempter, the spirit of intellectual pride and intellectual perversity; he took the form of a Serpent because that form is full of an evil simplicity. And he said, with the elaborate lucidity of modern hygiene, " All these meals are unnecessary to health. Take one raw apple, Madam, in the early morning; another at noon. The apple best suited for our purpose is of particular chemical properties, at once nutritious and light; it grows on a tree which I will show you in a moment. This simpler regimen will expand the moral powers, clear the intellect, purify and exalt the feelings: it will lead you up the endless spiral of Science and Moral Evolution. You will become as gods, knowing good and evil.'" But the divine justice smote that liar and put him also upon a regimen. '"On thy belly shalt thou go and the dust shalt thou eat.'" That is something like a Simple Life for you.

This theory of the Fall (which I commend to the teachers as an example of simple Bible teaching) is also supported by the story of Cain and Abel. It has often been pointed out that Cain was an agriculturist and therefore most probably a vegetarian; while Abel kept flocks and killed and ate them. I am sure that somewhere in this fact is to be found the key of that dark and terrible story. It seems so like a vegetarian to kill his brother on strictly altruistic principles. But however this may be, I decline to be soothed by the assurances of the social authority who delights in the increased hygiene of fashionable Society. This does not assuage the tender fears that fill me as I watch over the aristocracy. I still feel sadly responsible for them.
-July 7, 1906, Illustrated London News

Monday, April 11, 2016

"Literature is one of the forms that happiness takes; perhaps no writer has given me as many happy hours as Chesterton"
-Jorge Luis Borges
(quoted in the introduction to Daylight and Nightmare)

Friday, April 8, 2016

"A tradition is a live thing, not a dead one."

A tradition is a live thing, not a dead one. Nay, a tradition is actually felt as a recent thing; not a remote one. A tradition is always modern; if it has not energy enough to be modern then it is not a tradition, it is that despicable thing, a document. I do not eat pies at Christmas because William the Conquerer did. I do it because my father did; he did it because his father did; and along that chain (I need hardly say) I can trace a clear pedigree to William the Conquerer. 

The tradition is not kept up because it is old. It is kept up because it is nice; it was only by persistently being nice, generation after generation, that it managed to get old. The New Year is not observed because it is an ancient observance, but because it is a new year. When I give children toys at Christmas it is not because Christmas is antique, but because it is still young. I am not an antiquarian. I am not digging up in my garden the bones of something that is dead. On the contrary, I am watering in my garden the roots of something that is still alive: a green Christmas tree that still bears fruit every year. Therefore I do not worry about the origins, since I experience the rush and richness of the life.
-December 24, 1910, Daily News

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Our claim that nonsense is a new literature (we might almost say a new sense) would be quite indefensible if nonsense were nothing more than a mere aesthetic fancy. Nothing sublimely artistic has ever arisen out of mere art, any more than anything essentially reasonable has ever arisen out of the pure reason. There must always be a rich moral soil for any great aesthetic growth. The principle of art for art's sake is a very good principle if it means that there is a vital distinction between the earth and the tree that has its roots in the earth; but it is a very bad principle if it means that the tree could grow just as well with its roots in the air. Every great literature has always been allegorical—allegorical of some view of the whole universe. The 'Iliad' is only great because all life is a battle, the 'Odyssey' because all life is a journey, the Book of Job because all life is a riddle. There is one attitude in which we think that all existence is summed up in the word 'ghosts'; another, and somewhat better one, in which we think it is summed up in the words 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.' Even the vulgarest melodrama or detective story can be good if it expresses something of the delight in sinister possibilities—the healthy lust for darkness and terror which may come on us any night in walking down a dark lane. If, therefore, nonsense is really to be the literature of the future, it must have its own version of the Cosmos to offer; the world must not only be the tragic, romantic, and religious, it must be nonsensical also. And here we fancy that nonsense will, in a very unexpected way, come to the aid of the spiritual view of things. Religion has for centuries been trying to make men exult in the 'wonders' of creation, but it has forgotten that a thing cannot be completely wonderful so long as it remains sensible. So long as we regard a tree as an obvious thing, naturally and reasonably created for a giraffe to eat, we cannot properly wonder at it. It is when we consider it as a prodigious wave of the living soil sprawling up to the skies for no reason in particular that we take off our hats, to the astonishment of the park-keeper. Everything has in fact another side to it, like the moon, the patroness of nonsense. Viewed from that other side, a bird is a blossom broken loose from its chain of stalk, a man a quadruped begging on its hind legs, a house a gigantesque hat to cover a man from the sun, a chair an apparatus of four wooden legs for a cripple with only two.

This is the side of things which tends most truly to spiritual wonder. It is significant that in the greatest religious poem existent, the Book of Job, the argument which convinces the infidel is not (as has been represented by the merely rational religionism of the eighteenth century) a picture of the ordered beneficence of the Creation; but, on the contrary, a picture of the huge and undecipherable unreason of it. 'Hast Thou sent the rain upon the desert where no man is?' This simple sense of wonder at the shapes of things, and at their exuberant independence of our intellectual standards and our trivial definitions, is the basis of spirituality as it is the basis of nonsense. Nonsense and faith (strange as the conjunction may seem) are the two supreme symbolic assertions of the truth that to draw out the soul of things with a syllogism is as impossible as to draw out Leviathan with a hook. The well-meaning person who, by merely studying the logical side of things, has decided that 'faith is nonsense,' does not know how truly he speaks; later it may come back to him in the form that nonsense is faith.

-The Defendant

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Nothing so much drives a thinking man to the conviction that Christianity is the moral core of the world than the vast diversity of the fools who attack it. This thing may or may not be the cornerstone; it may or may not be true that anyone dashing himself against it shall be broken. But there is no doubt that he is very frequently cracked.
October 29, 1910, Daily News

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

"The whole peril of our public life is that so much of it is private life."

The hiding of ugly things is the whole disease of England. The whole peril of our public life is that so much of it is private life.
-January 18, 1908, Daily News

Monday, April 4, 2016

Legend and epic are in their nature even truer than history; since history is forced to record many things which are exceptional and involuntary, whereas poetry is a full confession of men's hearts.
-The Outlook, Volume LVVVI (September to December 1905), "The Eclipse of Sentiment"

Saturday, April 2, 2016

One of the most perfect feasts of the year is the one called April Fool's Day. It is the day of practical jokes, and by that perfect artistic instinct that endures in the heart of humanity it was fixed for a day in early spring.

For spring is a practical joke. You cannot imagine anyone trying to make anyone an April Fool in October. The April Fool symbolises (and experiences) the three great qualities of April, its expectancy, its gaiety, and its disappointment. Mankind made this joke at this particular time of the year because this particular time of the year is full of such bright uncertainty. I put my head out of window and see white patches which, by this time of the year, might well be white narcissus. Then I find they are only snow: and Nature, rocking with laughter down to her remotest chasms and caves, roars with laughter and thunders 'April Fool!'
-Lunacy and Letters (collection of essays published posthumously in 1958)
 The only case [...] in every quarrel, is to go back to first principles.....If there are such principles, it is best to debate on the basis of them. If there are no such principles, it is best not to debate at all. In that case, indeed, we cannot debate at all. We can only go on making noises [...]
-August 25. 1928, Illustrated London News

Friday, April 1, 2016

There are many definite methods, honest and dishonest, which make people rich; the only "instinct" I know of which does it is that instinct which theological Christianity crudely describes as "the sin of avarice."
-All Things Considered (1908)