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Gilbert Chesterton (1874 - 1936)

Chesterton, Gilbert K.

G.K. Chesterton, English journalist and author, was born in London on the 20th of May 1874. He came from a family of real estate agents and was educated at St Paul’s school, which he left in 1891 with the idea of studying art.

But his natural bent was literary, and he devoted himself mainly to cultivating that means of expression, both in prose and verse; he did occasional reviewing, and had some experience in a publisher’s office. In 1900, having already produced a volume of clever poems, The Wild Knight, he took to journalism as a career, and became a regular contributor of signed articles to the Speaker and Daily News. He established himself from the first as a writer with a distinct personality, combative, unconventional and dogmatic. The republication of much of his work in a series of volumes (e.g. Twelve Types, Heretics, Orthodoxy) enhanced his reputation.

His powers as a writer are best shown in his studies of Browning (in the English Men of Letters series) and of Dickens; but these were only rather more ambitious essays among a medley of characteristic utterances, ranging from fiction (including The Napoleon of Notting Hill) to fugitive verse, and from artistic criticism to discussions of ethics and religion.

He is perhaps most famous for his novels The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904), and The Man Who Was Thursday (1908), a witty allegory, and for a series of detective stories relating the adventures of Father Brown, a Roman Catholic sleuth.

Famous quotations by Gilbert Chesterton:

  • "My country, right or wrong," is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, "My mother, drunk or sober."

  • A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.

  • An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.

  • I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean.

  • I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.

  • Music with dinner is an insult both to the cook and the violinist.

  • The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion.

  • There are no wise few. Every aristocracy that has ever existed has behaved, in all essential points, exactly like a small mob.

  • It isn't that they can't see the solution. It is that they can't see the problem.

  • The paradox of courage is that a man must be a little careless of his life even in order to keep it.

  • The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.

  • No man who worships education has got the best out of education... Without a gentle contempt for education no man's education is complete.

  • Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.

  • Suggested sites for Gilbert Chesterton:

    Encyclopedia article about Gilbert Chesterton
    Texts by Chesterton
    The Innocence Of Father Brown
    A collection of short stories detailing twelve cases solved by the detective Father Brown.
    The Man Who Knew Too Much
    The life lessons of Horne Fisher, the man who knew too much, told in eight stories of mystery and crime.
    The Wisdom Of Father Brown
    A detective, Father Brown, solves mysteries in this twelve-story collection.

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