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 30, 2018

Humanity has passed through every sort of storm and shipwreck, but never before was it so doubtful which was the storm and which the shipwreck, and which the ship and which the ship’s crew; and what we are rescuing from what.
New York Herald Tribune Magazine, July 5th, 1931
Quoted in The Man Who Was Orthodox (1963)

Sunday, April 29, 2018

It is essential that this fundamental fallacy in the use of statistics should be got somehow into the modern mind. Such people must be made to see the point, which is surely plain enough, that it is useless to have exact figures if they are exact figures about an inexact phrase. If I say, "There are five fools in Action," it is surely quite clear that, though no mathematician can make five the same as four or six, that will not stop you or anyone else from finding a few more fools in Action.
-Eugenics and Other Evils (1922)

Saturday, April 28, 2018

[...] detail by itself means madness. The very definition of a lunatic is a man who has taken details out of their real atmosphere.
-Chesterton on Shakespeare (1971)

Friday, April 27, 2018

There is a sense in which men may be made normally happy; but there is another sense in which we may truly say, without undue paradox, that what they want is to get back to their normal unhappiness. At present they are suffering from an utterly abnormal unhappiness. They have got all the tragic elements essential to the human lot to contend with; time and death and bereavement and unrequited affection and dissatisfaction with themselves. But they have not got the elements of consolation and encouragement that ought normally to renew their hopes or restore their self-respect. They have not got vision or conviction, or the mastery of their work, or the loyalty of their household, or any form of human dignity. Even the latest Utopians, the last lingering representatives of that fated and unfortunate race, do not really promise the modern man that he shall do anything, or own anything, or in any effectual fashion be anything. They only promise that, if he keeps his eyes open, he will see something; he will see the Universal Trust or the World State or Lord Melchett coming in the clouds in glory. But the modern man cannot even keep his eyes open. He is too weary with toil and a long succession of unsuccessful Utopias. He has fallen asleep.
October 20, 1928, G.K.'s Weekly
[quoted in Wisdom and Innocence, Joseph Pearce,]

Thursday, April 26, 2018

I must frankly say that Bernard Shaw always seems to me to use the word God not only without any idea of what it means, but without one moment’s thought about what it could possibly mean. He said to some atheist, “Never believe in a God that you cannot improve on.” The atheist (being a sound theologian) naturally replied that one should not believe in a God whom one could improve on; as that would show that he was not God. In the same style in Major Barbara the heroine ends by suggesting that she will serve God without personal hope, so that she may owe nothing to God and He owe everything to her.  It does not seem to strike her that if God owes everything to her He is not God. These things affect me merely as tedious perversions of a phrase. It is as if you said, “I will never have a father unless I have begotten him.”
-George Bernard Shaw (1909)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The devil can quote Scripture for his purpose; and the text of Scripture which he now most commonly quotes is, 'The kingdom of heaven is within you.' That text has been the stay and support of more Pharisees and prigs and self-righteous spiritual bullies than all the dogmas in creation; it has served to identify self-satisfaction with the peace that passes all understanding. And the text to be quoted in answer to it is that which declares that no man can receive the kingdom except as a little child. What we are to have inside is the childlike spirit; but the childlike spirit is not entirely concerned about what is inside. It is the first mark of possessing it that one is interested in what is outside. The most childlike thing about a child is his curiosity and his appetite and his power of wonder at the world. We might almost say that the whole advantage of having the kingdom within is that we look for it somewhere else.
-What I Saw in America (1922)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

One [experience] was outside Barcelona, where the proprietor was an authentic American gangster, who had actually written a book of confessions about his own organised robbing and racketeering. Modest, like all great men, about the ability he had shown in making big business out of burglary and highway robbery, he was very proud of his literary experiment, and especially of his book; but, like some other literary men, he was dissatisfied with his publishers. He said he had rushed across just in time to find that they had stolen nearly all his royalties. “It was a shame,” I said sympathetically, “why it was simply robbery.” “I’ll say it was,” he said with an indignant blow on the table. “It was just plain robbery.”
-Autobiography (1936)

Monday, April 23, 2018

"It is interesting to note that the stimulus for [Ingmar] Bergman's [The] Magician was his own 1947 Swedish stage production of Chesterton's play, Magic."
-The Gift of Wonder: The Many Sides of G.K. Chesterton, (ed. Dale Ahlquist , pp. 101-102)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

All the characteristic inventions of our time have been inventions for improving the rate at which things are done, not for improving their quality. What is the telephone but an instrument by which I can talk to a man across England when I have nothing worth saying even to a man next door? What is a motor-car but a way of going very quickly when I am bored in London to bore somebody else in Yorkshire? What is the good of quickening all the human engines if you cannot for one instant quicken the human pulse?
-January 5, 1907, Daily News

Saturday, April 21, 2018

[...] Price is a crazy and incalculable thing, while Value is an intrinsic and indestructible thing [...]
-The Well and the Shallows (1935)

Friday, April 20, 2018

There has arisen in our time an extraordinary notion that there is something humane, open-hearted or generous about refusing to define one’s creed.  Obviously the very opposite is the truth.  Refusing to define a creed is not only not generous, it is distinctly mean.  It fails in frankness and fraternity towards the enemy.  It is fighting without a flag or a declaration of war.  It denies to the enemy the decent concessions of battle; the right to know the policy and to treat with the headquarters.  Modern “broad-mindedness” has a quality that can only be called sneakish; it endeavours to win without giving itself away, even after it has won.  It desires to be victorious without betraying even the name of the victor.  For all sane men have intellectual doctrines and fighting theories; and if they will not put them on the table, it can only be because they wish to have the advantage of a fighting theory which cannot be fought.

In the things of conviction there is only one other thing besides a dogma, and that is a prejudice.  If there is something in your life for which you will hold meetings and agitate and write letters to the newspaper, but for which you will not find the plain terms of a creed, then that thing is properly to be described as a prejudice, however new or noble or advanced it may seem to be.
-The Common Man (1950)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

This is the immortal justification of the Fable: that we could not teach the plainest truths so simply without turning men into chessmen. We cannot talk of such simple things without using animals that do not talk at all. Suppose, for a moment, that you turn the wolf into a wolfish baron, or the fox into a foxy diplomatist. You will at once remember that even barons are human, you will be unable to forget that even diplomatists are men. You will always be looking for that accidental good-humour that should go with the brutality of a brutal man; for that allowance for all delicate things, including virtue, that should exist in any good diplomatist. Once put a thing on two legs instead of four and pluck it of feathers and you cannot help asking for a human being, either heroic, as in the fairy tales, or unheroic, as in the modern novels.

But by using animals in this austere and arbitrary style as they are used on the shields of heraldry or the hieroglyphics of the ancients, men have really succeeded in handing down those tremendous truths that are called truisms. If the chivalric lion be red and rampant, it is rigidly red and rampant; if the sacred ibis stands anywhere on one leg, it stands on one leg for ever. In this language, like a large animal alphabet, are written some of the first philosophic certainties of men.
-G.K.C as M.C. (1929)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

"The art of tearing out the heart of a thing in ten minutes is their national virtue and their national disease. "

The Short Story flourishes in America, probably, for a variety of reasons. One reason, of course, can be found in the singular hurry and variety of American existence, their taste for 'samples' in life, their wasting and tyrannical excitement, which makes their stories as short as their tempers. A Short Story is a short cut to a story: it is the denouement [sic] of a novel without the rest. Just as the Americans require special trains and motor-cars to carry them quickly to their destination, so they require special stories to carry them to the explanation of a dilemma, to enable them, as on some lightning vehicle, to be in at the death of the villain. The art of tearing out the heart of a thing in ten minutes is their national virtue and their national disease. We owe them much gratitude for fostering and ennobling the Short Story, but there is a great deal of danger to literature in the Short Story. It encourages the notion that because we have seen a man hit off in one transfiguring sentence, or one telling and typical act, we know him as we know Tom Jones or Barnes Newcome, whom we know so well that we could tell how they would wipe their boots on a mat.
-April 9, 1901, Daily News

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

If we are to look for lessons, here at least is the last and deepest lesson of Dickens. It is in our own daily life that we are to look for the portents and the prodigies. This is the truth, not merely of the fixed figures of our life; the wife, the husband, the fool that fills the sky. It is true of the whole stream and substance of our daily experience; every instant we reject a great fool merely because he is foolish. Every day we neglect Tootses and Swivellers, Guppys and Joblings, Simmerys and Flashers. Every day we lose the last sight of Jobling and Chuckster, the Analytical Chemist, or the Marchioness. Every day we are missing a monster whom we might easily love, and an imbecile whom we should certainly admire.

This is the real gospel of Dickens; the inexhaustible opportunities offered by the liberty and the variety of man. Compared with this life, all public life, all fame, all wisdom, is by its nature cramped and cold and small. For on that defined and lighted public stage men are of necessity forced to profess one set of accomplishments, to rise to one rigid standard. It is the utterly unknown people who can grow in all directions like an exuberant tree. It is in our interior lives that we find that people are too much themselves. It is in our private life that we find them swelling into the enormous contours, and taking on the colours of caricature. Many of us live publicly with featureless public puppets, images of the small public abstractions. It is when we pass our own private gate, and open our own secret door, that we step into the land of the giants.
-Charles Dickens (1906)

Monday, April 16, 2018

Hamlet was only a mild sort of murderer; a more or less accidental and parenthetical murderer; an amateur. But Macbeth was a good, solid, serious, self-respecting murderer; and we must not have any nonsense about him. For the play of Macbeth is, in the supreme and special sense, the Christian Tragedy; to be set against the Pagan Tragedy of Oedipus. It is the whole point about Oedipus that he does not know what he is doing. And it is the whole point about Macbeth that he does know what he is doing. It is not a tragedy of Fate but a tragedy of Freewill. He is tempted of a devil, but he is not driven by a destiny. If the actor pronounces the words properly, the whole audience ought to feel that the story may yet have an entirely new ending, when Macbeth says suddenly, ‘We will proceed no further in this business.’ The incredible confusion of modern thought is always suggesting that any indication that men have been influenced is an indication that they have been forced. All men are always being influenced; for every incident is an influence. The question is, which incident shall we allow to be most influential. Macbeth was influenced; but he consented to be influenced. He was not, like a blind tragic pagan, obeying something he thought he ought to obey. He does not worship the Three Witches like the Three Fates. He is a good enlightened Christian, and sins against the light.
-Chesterton on Shakespeare (1971)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Frank Capra and G.K. Chesterton

An interesting blog post I came across that shows an indirect connection between Frank Capra and G.K. Chesterton via Myles Connolly (emphasis mine):
Now it was the early 30s, and [Frank Capra] met a man named Miles [sic] Connolly (author of Mr. Blue). Capra described him as "violently Catholic" [..] Connolly actually knew of Chesterton and Belloc, and succeeded in getting them to write for his magazine. Connolly was also involved in the film business as a "script doctor". Connolly quoted Hilaire Belloc to Capra on their first meeting.

Connolly determined to bring Capra back into the fold, and he planned to do it with Chesterton and Belloc. Connolly began to goad Capra into using his great talent for a better purpose. Capra was making simple silly films, and Connolly told him is was wasting his talent. Capra described this period of a love/hate friendship time.

The best Connolly scholar, a priest in Boston, says that Connolly's book, Mr. Blue, was a direct response of Connolly's to his reading of Chesterton's biography of St. Francis of Assisi. Another scholar states that Mr. Blue was based on Chesterton himself

The films Capra made after this period of time all are based on the temptation to faith. Capra continuously felt the pull between faith and science, and his films work out this skepticism. He begins the film with a family and a faith as a hypothesis. Then, he experiments with doubt, despair and tragedy, gets the situation to boil and burn, and find out whether the man will break or survive.

His characters then split into two characters, the idealist and the cynic. The idealist is the good guy, and the cynic is the bad guy. What will happen when their two world collide?

Mr. Deeds is the first film Capra made under the influence of Connolly. Mr. Deeds is based on Mr. Blue. [...]

Capra was also influenced by Eric Gill, and claimed he was a major influence in his life, and Gill was the man who designed Gilbert and Frances Chesterton's gravestone.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

For in this world of ours we do not so much go on and discover small things; rather we go on and discover big things. It is the details that we see first; it is the design that we only see very slowly; and some men die never having seen it at all. We all wake up on a battle-field. We see certain squadrons in certain uniforms gallop past; we take an arbitrary fancy to this or that colour, to this or that plume. But it often takes us a long time to realise what the fight is about or even who is fighting whom [...]  So in the modern intellectual world we can see flags of many colours, deeds of manifold interest; the one thing we cannot see is the map. We cannot see the simplified statement which tells us what is the origin of all the trouble.
-William Blake (1910)

Friday, April 13, 2018

[...] the sort of liberty which the modern world emphatically has not got [is] the real liberty of the mind. It is no longer a question of liberty from kings and captains and inquisitors. It is a question of liberty from catchwords and headlines and hypnotic repetitions and all the plutocratic platitudes imposed on us by advertisement and journalism.
-The Thing (1929)

Thursday, April 12, 2018

[...] the soul never speaks until it speaks in poetry; and that in our daily conversation we do not speak; we only talk.
-"English Literature and the Latin Tradition"
Found in The Soul of Wit: G.K. Chesterton on William Shakespeare (2012)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Sometimes the best business of an age is to resist some alien invasion; sometimes to preach practical self-control in a world too self-indulgent and diffused; sometimes to prevent the growth in the State of great new private enterprises that would poison or oppress it. Above all it may sometimes happen that the highest task of a thinking citizen may be to do the exact opposite of the work which the Radicals had to do. It may be his highest duty to cling on to every scrap of the past that he can find, if he feels that the ground is giving way beneath him and sinking into mere savagery and forgetfulness of all human culture.
-Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens (1911)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Sometimes the hardest thing of all is to give [one's country] truth.
-Chesterton in a 1901 letter to his wife (quoted in Maisie Ward's biography of GKC)

Monday, April 9, 2018

No man’s really any good till he knows how bad he is, or might be; till he’s realized exactly how much right he has to all this snobbery, and sneering, and talking about ‘criminals,’ as if they were apes in a forest ten thousand miles away; till he’s got rid of all the dirty self-deception of talking about low types and deficient skulls; till he’s squeezed out of his soul the last drop of the oil of the Pharisees; till his only hope is somehow or other to have captured one criminal, and kept him safe and sane under his own hat.
-The Secret of Father Brown (1927)

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Liberty is never an easy thing. The man or the nation who seeks liberty under the impression that it is an easy thing has always sunk, and always deserved to sink, back into slavery, which is the very home of ease
-November 13, 1901, Daily News

Saturday, April 7, 2018

A healthy nation must necessarily boast that it is unique, like an orchid. But no healthy nation can with moral safety boast that it is universal, like the flowers of the field.
-June 8, 1907, Illustrated London News

Friday, April 6, 2018

To amuse oneself is a mark of gaiety, vitality and love of life. To be amused is a mark of melancholy, surrender and a potential of suicide.

The former means that a man's own thoughts are attractive, artistic and satisfying; the latter means that his own thoughts are ugly, unfruitful and stale. And the happiness of a people is not to be judged by the amount of fun provided for them. For fun can be provided as food can be provided; by a few big stores or shops. The happiness of the people is to be judged by the fun that the people provide. In healthier ages any amount of fun was really provided by the people and not merely for the people.
-"Vanity Fair", February 1920
Found in The Soul of Wit: G.K. Chesterton on William Shakespeare (2012)

Thursday, April 5, 2018

[...] for purposes of real public opinion the Press is now a mere plutocratic oligarchy.
-November 12, 1904, Daily News

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

[...] as is commonly the case to-day, hardly anybody makes any attempt at defining the thing he is always denouncing; finding it much easier to denounce than to define.
-Generally Speaking (1928)

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

"[...] the real habitation of Liberty is the home."

[...] the real habitation of Liberty is the home.  Modern novels and newspapers and problem plays have been piled up in one huge rubbish-heap to hide this simple fact; yet it is a fact that can be proved quite simply.  Public life must be rather more regimented than private life; just as a man cannot wander about in the traffic of Piccadilly exactly as he could wander about in his own garden.  Where there is traffic there will be regulation of traffic; and this is quite as true, or even more true, where it is what we should call an illicit traffic; where the most modern governments organize sterilization to-day and may organize infanticide to-morrow.  Those who hold the modern superstition that the State can do no wrong will be bound to accept such a thing as right.  If individuals have any hope of protecting their freedom, they must protect their family life.  At the worst there will be rather more personal adaptation in a household than in a concentration camp; at the best there will be rather less routine in a family than in a factory.  In any tolerably healthy home the rules are at least partly affected by things that cannot possibly affect fixed laws; for instance, the thing we call a sense of humour.
-The Well and the Shallows (1935)

Monday, April 2, 2018

"So strong is such a tradition that later generations will dream of what they have never seen."

Perhaps the one rallying point for all Britons is that their songs in America have been songs of exile. The most familiar of them represents the Irishman with his bundle bound for Philadelphia, or the Englishman whistling 'Falmouth is a fine town' as he walks down the street of Baltimore, or the Scotsman rising to that high note not unworthy of the waters of Babylon.
But still our hearts are true, our hearts are Highland,
And we in dreams behold the Hebrides.
So strong is such a tradition that later generations will dream of what they have never seen. The nationalism is most intense where the nation is only a name. Irish American is more Irish than Irish. The English colonial loyalist is more loyal than an Englishman. The loves and hatreds harden in that hard air under those clear skies of the western world. They are unsoftened by all internal doubts and criticisms that come from being on the spot.
-William Cobbett (1925)

Sunday, April 1, 2018

"He is not dead, even where he is denied."

But above all the prophet was not and is not like other prophets; and the proof of it is to be found not primarily among those who believe in him, but among those who do not.  He is not dead, even where he is denied  [...] Leaving orthodoxy and even sanity entirely on one side, the very heresies and insanities of our time prove that after nearly two thousand years the issue is still living and the name is quite literally one to conjure with.  Let the critics try to conjure with any of the other names.  In the real centres of modern inquiry and mental activity, they will not move even a mystic with the name of Mithras as they will move a materialist with the name of Jesus.  There are men who deny God and accept Christ.
-The New Jerusalem (1920)