- File Size: 492 KB
- Print Length: 406 pages
- Publisher: Ignatius Press (October 20, 2011)
- Publication Date: October 20, 2011
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B005XQ97SM
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #331,355 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Just so with the non-fiction, but to a smaller degree, for non-fiction cannot help belonging to a period, and being, in that sense, hopelessly dated. Here again, though, it happens that the particular period of GKC (Edwardian England) and our particular period have a great deal in common, and nowhere is this more evident than when reading GKC. Of course, no one is going to pick up a random book and just start reading, as they might a novel passed on by a friend. So three friends who are also friends of Chesterton's, if a century later, have ganged up to pass on their favorite bits. And yes, they are bits, for Chesterton was a master of the short essay-- yes short. In his own day, they were brief columns in newspapers, or a couple pages in magazines. Hmm, I'm thinking right about now, that might not be so bad. Most of the brief bits were later gathered into books, this being a way to sell books to readers who might have read a few columns and be thirsting for more.
So, oddly enough, anyone who quotes a short bit of Chesterton today probably got it from one of these longer collections of short bits. But who wants to track down all these non-fiction collections, which run into dozens of books in the case of such a prolific author? Someone needs to find the best brief bits in those books and drag them into one book. Someone has. Or rather, three someones have. Three someones pulled together 67 favorite bits into this 380 plus page collection (yes that averages to about 5 or so pages each), and, as in the newspapers of a hundred years ago (and some later), put them once again in the view of the casual reader. Not only that, you get brief introductions by the three someones as to why they love these essays.
I also love the essay, and was first introduced to it in "On Lying in Bed" (which ranks, I might add, as one of the best essays I've ever read). But decide for yourself, it's no. 8 in this volume. Which, incidentally, is ideal for those who've read some GKC novels and wonder if they dare try the non-fiction, and if so, where to start? Readers absolutely new to GKC might get addicted to not only Chesterton, but the form of the essay. And as for those of us who already have both addictions, we simply say "Thank You".
The essays dispense with much of his discursiveness. He gets to the point and stays on topic. Each essay reflects him iin some way.
I was delighted with his defense of Jane Austen (one of my favorite authors) and Charles Dickens.
There are 67 essays in this volume, enough to take several months to dip in and savor. Ahlquist et al have done a wonderful job of selecting these essays. They demonstrate the eclectic nature of Chesterton's interests. He is always logical and rational in his arguments. Always shows a common sense approach to his topic. In many of his essays he is arguing with someone about some point. I appreciate his logical, unemotional, progression of thought.
For those who have trouble reading the Chesterton books because of their discursiveness, they will enjoy these 'distilled' versions of Chesterton.
First, because the joy of reading this book is only the begining. Enlightenment, clarity, wonder, mirth, humor, truth, and, yes, sanity, all follow in their train. This is as fine a collection of the "best" of Chesterton as I have come across. As noted in the begining of the work, the three editors are long time enthusiasts and efficienados of GKC; pioneers in the Chesterton revival. They have collected a fine compilation of the major examples of pure Chesterton prose. Indeed, the wide range of subjects speak for themselves and reflect the depth of knowledge and wonder that he had for God's creation.
Secondly, I now have the joy of rereading the collection. In fact, I expect I will be revisiting this volume many times. One of the great pleasures in reading Chesterton is the anticipation of reading him again, and again; each time bringing something new up from the well.
In conclusion, this may now be that proverbial first book to read when being introduced to the sanity of GKC. And if this happens to be your first (or 100th) Chesterton work, know that it is just the begining of a long friendship with a great soul.