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Thread: Orwell's criticism of Chesterton

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Orwell's criticism of Chesterton

    I have recently read two George Orwell essays which criticized G.K. Chesterton. Both essays were superb btw. In his essay Antisemitism in Britain , he accuses Chesteron of antisemitism. In another, Notes on Nationalism, he accuses him of uncritically lavishing Latin countries, such as Italy and France, with the sort of jingoistic praise he would have been embarrassed to hear about his own country. Orwell supposed that his motive in both cases was his support for the Catholic church. Chesterton was not the only writer or thinker that Orwell criticizes, but I am not very familiar with many of the others.

    I am not entirely surprised. The impression I get is that G.K. Chesteron was both very clever, and also rather silly. He was ingenious at writing literary puzzles and plot twists, but that his political views were shallow and contrarian.

    I will have to read Chesterton's essay on Dickens to decide.
    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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    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Chesterton opposed women's suffrage, too. He had both a liberal and conservative bent (not surprising, because he revelled in paradoxes). He always considered himself a liberal, but he revered the past. I don't remember his anti-semitism (and I've read a lot of Chesterton), but I wasn't looking for it, and wouldn't be surprised. T.S. Eliot has been accused of anti-semitism, too.

    I don't think his political views were shallow (it's amusing to see him plumbing the depths of logic to argue against female suffrage), but they were the results of his many preconceived notions about how things OUGHT to be (notions which could be called "prejudiced" instead of "preconceived").

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