Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Everlasting Man Paperback – July 19, 2013
|New from||Used from|
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
What, if anything, is it that makes the human uniquely human? This, in part, is the question that G.K. Chesterton starts with in this classic exploration of human history. Responding to the evolutionary materialism of his contemporary (and antagonist) H.G. Wells, Chesterton in this work affirms human uniqueness and the unique message of the Christian faith. Writing in a time when social Darwinism was rampant, Chesterton instead argued that the idea that society has been steadily progressing from a state of primitivism and barbarity towards civilization is simply and flatly inaccurate. "Barbarism and civilization were not successive stages in the progress of the world," he affirms, with arguments drawn from the histories of both Egypt and Babylon.
As always with Chesterton, there is in this analysis something (as he said of Blake) "very plain and emphatic." He sees in Christianity a rare blending of philosophy and mythology, or reason and story, which satisfies both the mind and the heart. On both levels it rings true. As he puts it, "in answer to the historical query of why it was accepted, and is accepted, I answer for millions of others in my reply; because it fits the lock; because it is like life." Here, as so often in Chesterton, we sense a lived, awakened faith. All that he writes derives from a keen intellect guided by the heart's own knowledge. --Doug Thorpe
I've reread this book after ten years and found it just as astonishing a work as I did the first time around. Chesterton is a consummate apologist, combining a sincere reverence for his subject matter with a devastating sense of humour and a true generalist's erudition. He has a wonderful ability of taking accepted secular dogmas, turning them completely on their heads, and in the process making Catholic dogmas, rejected for their lack of congruence with modernism, look sensible and enlightened. This polemical mastery is one of the enduring qualities of The Everlasting Man. --A Customer
This is a book that everyone ought to read two or three times at least. It is a crime that such nonsense as Conversations With God, or better but still relatively shallow introductions to comparative religion like Religions of Man, seem to be better known. Here you will find a description of Christianity and its relation to other faiths strong and fine as aged wine. I don't know of anyone who writes with this much class in the modern world. Having ordered the book for our college library, I tried not to mark it too much, but found myself putting ink dots on paragraph after paragraph of material I wanted to quote. He rambles a bit, but I think there is more wisdom, humor, and insight in a single page of this book than in whole volumes that are better known in our days. --David Marshall
Everlasting Man had a decisive role in one of the most important conversions of the this century. C.S. Lewis described reading it in 1925 when he was still an atheist: "Then I read Chesterton's Everlasting Man and for the first time saw the whole Christian outline of history set out in a form that seemed to me to make sense . . . I already thought Chesterton the most sensible man alive;apart from his Christianity; Now, I veritably believe, I thought that Christianity itself was very sensible;apart from its Christianity." (Surprised by Joy p.223) When asked what Christian writers had helped him, Lewis remarked in 1963, six months before he died; "The contemporary book that has helped me the most is Chesterton's The Everlasting Man." (God in the Dock p.260.) --Fr. Phil Bloom (firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
Although much of the first part of the book may seem dated (it consists mostly of a friendly attack on H.G. Wells anti-Christian "Outline of History") Chesterton's points are still well taken. Many of his musings on evolution can be put to use today against the adherents of creationism as well as the scientifically arrogant. Although he takes 50 pages to say it (he IS a bit of a windbag, but his blustery style and curmudgeonly wit makes it enjoyable all the while), his point about the anthropology of his day is that it is inherently incapable of explaining the irreconcilable chasm between man and the critters he may have materially evolved from. And this difference is constituted by Mind, or by man's soul, as manifested primarily (for Chesterton) in art and religion. One could add science. His illustrations on this point are hilarious. He draws the silly images of cows writing sonatas, sheep practising an elaborate form of ancestor worship, and dogs in solemn procession wearing canine mitres and swinging censers smouldering with dog-appealing scents. All to show the gap that separates us from the animals.
When he moves to specifically Christian apologetics, Chesterton presents a theory of history that, though it bears an obvious resemblance to Augustine's philosophy of history, is remarkably unique and dramatically compelling. The chapter on the war of the gods and demons will assure that you never again think of the Punic Wars in the same way. It also puts to rest much nonsensical multi-culturalist cant.
And indeed this constant struggle, in history, between two supernatural forces permeates Chesterton's sense of history; another similarity to Augustine. However, he is not by any means a Manichean. He is constantly pointing out the marvels of the salvation story and falls prostrate in stricken awe at the very idea of the Incarnation being a fact.
And this is the point of the book; namely, to reinvigorate the awesomeness of that Idea and, more importantly, that Fact, by trying to tell it anew, and by asserting and demonstrating that nothing in modernity or before has ever been able to contradict it, nor to dissuade the millions who have pinned their hope to and derived their inspiration from it.
Chesterton's archeology and contemporary references are a bit dated, of course. But even there, what goes around often comes around. Chesterton leads off with a story about Grant Allen, author of a piece of heresy of that time called "Evolution of the Idea of God." More recently Karen Armstrong wrote a book with an almost identical title and thesis, "History of God," and was greeted in the press as a bold thinker. Chesterton kindly and elegantly refuted her error, and those of many other modern skeptics, decades before they were born. Admirers of Bishop Spong in particular should read this book. Chesterton was not a scholar of comparative religions, of course, and he may have oversimplified a few things, but I think got the big things in true proportion better than anyone.
The plan of the book is simple. In the first half, Chesterton describes man, particularly in his religious aspect. In particular, he explains four universal elements of human religion: mythology, philosophy, demonism, and an awareness of God that one finds in almost every culture around the world. The tendency in the modern world is to ignore the last two elements when they occur outside of Western culture. But I have found in my own studies of Asian cultures and religions that Chesterton's description of human religion fit the facts extremely well.
The second half of the book is about Jesus and the movement he founded. I like what he says about Jesus best, and wish he had spent more time on that and proportionally less on European culture. A few of his racial or cultural assumptions do not come across well in our age. It is worth remembering how the face of Christianity has changed over the hundred years since this book was published. Then Christianity was almost exclusively a Western religion, while now two thirds of the believers in the world live in Africa, Latin American and Asia.
If you are interested in a more detailed discussion of some of the points Chesterton brings up, I suggest Don Richardson's Eternity in Their Hearts, another of the most overlooked works of the 20th Century. I have also just written a book called Jesus and the Religions of Man, that covers in more detail (but undoubtedly with less style) much of the same territory.