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GKC Once Over Lightly
on April 27, 2003
"Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly," G.K.Chesterton once remarked. Despite his considerable poundage, no one took himself more lightly than GKC. In this tiny tome, Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society, takes on a big subject--the 300 pound Victorian writer G.K.C.. Daunting as the task may be, he succeeds in giving a birds' eye view--Peter Pan style--flying as it were over twelve of the prolific author's best-known and most-loved books, lighting here and there to briefly explore historical and cultural connections.
Ahlquist in person takes himself as lightly as GKC, as anyone who has heard his lectures can attest, but here he comes off as earnest, at times even strident, as against the buoyant wit of his subject. The reason is that he has simply given Chesterton all the good lines, and been content to play straight man to his humorous star. He further straight-jackets himself by confining himself to GKC's nonfiction work, and we all know how many funny lines are scattered throughout the fiction.
No matter. Chesterton emerges as firmly on the side of the angels, applying, impossible as it may sound, the same light touch and genial sensibility to the pressing problems of our times--or rather his times nearly 100 years ago. All in all, here's the best intro to not only the man Chesterton, but a dozen of his best books.