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Thread: G.K. Chesterton - any good?

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    G.K. Chesterton - any good?

    I have recently started reading some Father Brown stories. I am sorry to say, so far, I am not too bowled over. Father Brown seems to be one in the history of eccentric detectives, this time a Roman Catholic priest. The crimes are flashy but improbable. A puzzle is outlined and we all wait around until Father Brown clears it up for us. No attempt is made to get under his skin of the characters. The Wire, it is not. It is a bit like Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie, but not as good. I will continue reading them, but I was a bit disappointed. I wondered whether Father Brown was typical of Chesterton's writing. I noticed one of G.K. Chesterton's books being promoted in a branch of Waterstones recently. I think it was The Man Who Was Thursday. A member of staff had written a note saying it was great. Today I was listening to book programme on the radio, in which one of the guests explained why another of G.K. Chesterton's books, The Napoleon of Notting Hill had been so influential on him. If Chesterton is still in print a hundred years after he was active then presumably he was pretty good, but I don't know.
    Last edited by kev67; 06-04-2013 at 07:51 PM.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Chesterton is a better writer than both Doyle and Christie. Father Brown are actually ironic, they are improbable because Chesterton wanted to show how we easily believe in anything. And skin of character? I dunno what it means.

    The man who was thursday is a great reading, not much similar to Father brown.

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    I have tried to read one of his 'Father Brown' stories, but I don't find it interesting. Maybe because I don't like crime stories so much. But I like his poetry... so humorous...

    'Grant my immortal aureole, O my God,
    And I will name the leaves upon the trees,'

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Chesterton is a better writer than both Doyle and Christie. Father Brown are actually ironic, they are improbable because Chesterton wanted to show how we easily believe in anything. And skin of character? I dunno what it means.

    The man who was thursday is a great reading, not much similar to Father brown.
    If you think he's good, that's good. I have read he wrote in different styles, so maybe I would like his other work better. I suspect he is better at plots than people. I suppose it is difficult to write a lot of characterization in short, thirty page stories like Father Brown.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    "characterization" , i am not sure what you mean. but anyways, chesterton is a storyteller, that enjoys allegories and stock characters.

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    Registered User Red-Headed's Avatar
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    I like Chesterton, some of his poetry was very witty, & his short stories & novellas were entertaining. His work often seems to be nostalgic for a time that didn't actually exist in reality. He seemed to excel in describing the odd & the diverse in humanity itself. It seems to me that he wrote with a particular vigour yet without becoming overly tendentious in his views.
    docendo discimus

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    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Chesterton was a great essayist, Christian apologist, and literary critic. His biographies of Francis of Assissi and Thomas Acquinas are excellent. His books on Dickens and Shaw are excellent. "Orthodoxy" is fabulous. I like some of his poetry. My personal favorite among his novels is "Napoleon of Notting Hill". I own a book of his weekly newspaper columns in which, among other things, he opposes female suffrage. To read someone as generous and goodhearted as Chesterton argue against granting women the vote is about as much fun as the reader of a newspaper column can have. Where are his equals today?

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    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Here are some well-known quaotations of Chesterton, many of which show his love of paradoxical truths:

    On money:

    Among the rich you will never find a really generous man even by accident..... To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it.
    On education:

    Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.
    ON Charles Dickens:

    There is a great man who makes every man feel small. But the real great man is the man who makes every man feel great.
    ON science:

    All the terms used in the science books, 'law,' 'necessity,' 'order,' 'tendency,' and so on, are really unintellectual .... The only words that ever satisfied me as describing Nature are the terms used in the fairy books, 'charm,' 'spell,' 'enchantment.' They express the arbitrariness of the fact and its mystery. A tree grows fruit because it is a magic tree. Water runs downhill because it is bewitched. The sun shines because it is bewitched. I deny altogether that this is fantastic or even mystical. We may have some mysticism later on; but this fairy-tale language about things is simply rational and agnostic.
    ON poetry:
    Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    Here are some well-known quaotations of Chesterton, many of which show his love of paradoxical truths:

    On money:



    On education:



    ON Charles Dickens:



    ON science:



    ON poetry:
    I find these pronouncements slightly irritating.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I think I'm beginning to get these Father Brown stories. They are about as far away from true crime as it is possible to get. They are not bad as bedtime reading, but they are not great literature. They reminded me of a radio programme I heard about Dr Who books. The authors were told never to write what the Doctor was thinking. Father Brown may as well be a timelord. I suspect G.K.Chesterton would have made a great writer of plots for TV shows like Dr Who or detective shows like Columbo. Columbo is a fairly similar character to Father Brown. His private life is never investigated. The crime he is given to solve every week is usually very serious but is always an intellectual puzzle rather than a tragedy.

    Did G.K. Chesterton ever get properly serious about anything?
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    No, he was too inteligent to be serious about that.

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    All are at the crossroads qimissung's Avatar
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    I especially love his quote about cheese. I must remedy the situation.
    "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its' own reason for existing." ~ Albert Einstein
    "Remember, no matter where you go, there you are." Buckaroo Bonzai
    "Some people say I done alright for a girl." Melanie Safka

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    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    I like the last three quotes especially.

    Quote Originally Posted by qimissung View Post
    I especially love his quote about cheese. I must remedy the situation.
    Easy enough.

    http://www.online-literature.com/for...47#post1223147
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I have finished selected stories of Father Brown. I am still not sure what to make of them. What they reminded me most was of the TV series, The Prisoner. In that series, each episode had something genuinely clever. I think. if G.K. Chesterton had been around in the television age, he might have written a really great TV series. The short stories themselves don't even try to be realistic. Compared to David Simon's Homocide they are crapm but they are decent reading. I am not sure why Sherlock Holmes is that much better. I think it was because a) Conan Doyle was first, b) the Holmes-Watson relationship worked better, c) there was less religious philosophising. I gather from the afterword, that The Man Who Was Thursday was Chesterton's best novel, but that it was odd.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    I've read The Complete Father Brown Stories and I enjoyed just a few of them. I also read The Man Who Was Thursday, I liked it better than his detective stories. Ah, and I almost forgot, I read his Tremendous Trifles, and found some of the articles interesting, but not all of them.

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