Heretics Paperback – May 29, 2013
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|Paperback, May 29, 2013||
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- Publisher : CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 29, 2013)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 138 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1490303022
- ISBN-13 : 978-1490303024
- Item Weight : 7.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 6.14 x 0.32 x 9.21 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,568,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This book is absolutely relevant to understand where are we in this century, In very few parts I disagree (and it could because I have not giving enough though to those ideas), but mostly Chesterton's light is almost blinding, each page has something earth-shattering while at the same time felt as true as if I knew it all along but is the first time we read it in its proper words. If you liked Orthodoxy this book will be an amazing adventure too.
The AmazonClassics Edition is wonderful, probably the best edition available. I didn't detect mistakes, as mentioned there is X-Ray which fortunately has entries for many (although not all) of names mentioned. The book is old but feels like written this morning thanks to the professional formatting and modern typography, and, last but not least, without nosy introductions, studies or additions. The text is pure and I would recommend it over the usual public domain editions.
Heretics was my first experience with G.K. Chesterton. And it was a grueling one. Reading this book was an experience in attrition. I trudged through it, picking it up and down, up and down. Though I finished it with an inner fanfare and “Hurrah!!”, I simply could not get into the subject matter.
Heretics takes a look at prominent figures in Chesterton's days from his perspective and their views and philosophies on things. I think the title is a misnomer because he doesn't speak of these figures as heretics in the sense one would expect.
So what was the problem with the book? It wasn't that the book was dated because of the era it was from. That was not it at all as he had talked about some notable figures like Rudyard Kipling and George Benard Shaw. No. It was the way that Chesterton turns a phrase and belabors a point no matter how correct it may be. Much of what he said wasn't heady as much as it was a bunch of extraneous mumbo-jumbo. The book didn't really start to get good until the end. I'm not just saying that either. When he began to wrap it up, he wrote differently than he had in the rest of the book with a more directness which is what I would have preferred throughout the whole book.
One thing you have to say about Chesterton: the man had wit. You can't get far into the book without noticing the guy was witty as could be. He actually talked about it in the book and how others criticized him for it on serious topics.
All was not lost, however. There were some excellent nuggets along the roads that made me keep going in the book. Like the following quotes:
Every man is idealistic; only it so often happens that he has the wrong ideal.
If there is one thing more than another which anyone will admit who has the smallest knowledge of the world, it is that men are always speaking gravely and earnestly and with the utmost possible care about the things that are not important, but always talking frivolously about the things that are.
The men who have really been the bold artists, the realistic artists, the uncompromising artists, are the men who have turned out, after all, to be writing “with a purpose”.
The last one, which is the last quote I highlighted, was spot on. Most writers, fiction as well, should write with a purpose. It can be something as inconsequential as pure entertainment. But I don't know of too many that do not who are good or go on to do things that have a serious impact. Thumbs way up Mr. Chesterton.
All in all, it wasn't totally horrible, but it did not engender a desire to rush out and pick up another one of his books immediately. Nah. I'll wait a bit for that.
Some of the names have been forgotten almost entirely; a few, like G B Shaw, Kipling, and so on, are still read. Many of the openings of the chapters are the best and most concise things in the chapters, but as always there are gems scattered around, and a bundle of wit.
Top reviews from other countries
Heretics is a set of critical essays on various writers of the very early C20th. Some are still well known, others less so. As such, I found this a fraction less interesting than 'Orthodoxy', in which GKC set out more of his own views. Fortunately, though, his criticisms are usually very general, so they're still interesting even if you don't really know who George Moore was.
Chesterton's style has certainly dated. It is exuberant, and there is plenty of real wit here, but the flurry of paradoxes can be a bit relentless. It's a loud style, designed for the debating chamber. But what saves Chesterton from being pompous is the fact that his ideas are so constantly surprising. Even when some of his views are quite conventional, such as his defence of family life, his arguments are extremely unconventional. 'The common defence of the family,' he writes, 'is that, amid the stress and fickleness of life, it is peaceful, pleasant, and at one.' Needless to say, he defends it on the grounds that it is precisely the opposite. And who else would denounce the sin of Pride by singing the praises of Vanity?
Chesterton tends to be seen as a Christian apologist, but his work is of much wider interest than that. It's all free, too. Whatever views you hold, you will find yourself reassessing them under this perverse light, as few writers offer as many novel insights to the square yard. His style may be dated; his thinking remains as fresh as paint.