- File Size: 844 KB
- Print Length: 162 pages
- Publisher: Prabhat Prakashan (July 10, 2020)
- Publication Date: July 10, 2020
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B08CR4ZMH4
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
|Print List Price:||$3.95|
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Tremendous Trifles Kindle Edition
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I returned to it now and then, as one does, after reading rather more gripping reads. Then its magic kicked in, and in my view, some of the later essays, particularly those that are travelogues, are the best. Other readers will have their favorites; some of mine are:" The advantages of Having One Leg"; "The Twelve Men"; "The Wind and the Trees"; "In Topsy-Turvy Land"; "The Tower"; "The Orthodox Barber"; "Humanity: An Interlude"; "The Little Birds Who Won't Sing"; "The Travellers in State"; "The Prehistoric Railway Station"; "A Glimpse of My Country"; and "The Ballade of a Strange Town".
That's my dozen keepers from these 39 essays, a rather good haul from a book a century old. The difficulty in this volume is that the references, as in most newspaper columns, are to current controversies, culture, and even jokes of the day. The reason this book celebrates a centennial when so many others of the era are forgotten, is because for Chesterton, those passing fancies, all the rage at the moment, are signposts to conditions common to humanity. That's why he remains so quotable. But neither did he write vaguely about universals; he observed and commented on particular people and places in his time. That's why he remains readable.
Few read the sort of column collected here in our day, and fewer now write it. What one notices on reading any Chesterton, however, on dipping into any book almost anywhere, is his delight in living, and looking, and reuminating. This is not a self-help book, but any reader who helps him or herself to it, may be helped regardless, to see more, and enjoy life more. Because his message at bottom is it's OK to enjoy life, to see it as a good gift, to be thankful and revel in it. This is not the frantic optimism of a prescriptive self-help book. To Chesterton, it's simple realism. As he writes in "The Ballade of a Strange Town":
"The false optimism, the modern happiness, tires us because it tells us we fit into this world. The true happiness is that we don't fit. We come from somewhere else. We have lost our way." A hundred years later these words still ring true. Which is why we're still reading him.
Top international reviews
Each is complete in itself. Most are thought-provoking, some are whimsical, some are downright bizarre.
The overall theme is of ordinariness. Chesterton claims, in the introduction, that he is encouraging his readers to look at everyday objects - ceilings, and pens, and fences - and ponder their significance. This is what he does in the essays which result. Some, I assume, are true anecdotes, others entirely imaginative.
It's not a book to read in one sitting. I found that if I picked it up when I was tired, or if I read an essay that required knowledge of specific places or politicians, I often took in very little. However, other stories appealed strongly; from time to time I came across a sentence or two that struck quite a chord.
As works of social history - this is the nearest the author got to journalling, he claims - these pieces have value, and there are nicely ironic touches that I appreciated. But inevitably it’s very dated, and unlikely to appeal to those of a less reflective, faster-paced generation. I doubt if I'll read it again, but for Chesterton fans it's worth perusing at least once.