G.K. Chesterton, b. 1874.
Chesterton to his friend George Bernard Shaw: “To look at you, anyone would think there was a famine in England.”
Shaw: “To look at you, anyone would think you caused it.”
Chesterton on Oscar Wilde: “Oscar Wilde said that sunsets were not valued because we could not pay for sunsets. But Oscar Wilde was wrong; we can pay for sunsets. We can pay for them by not being Oscar Wilde.”
Chesterton’s biography of Charles Dickens was largely responsible for creating a popular revival for Dickens’s work as well as a serious reconsideration of Dickens by scholars. It was considered by T. S. Eliot, Peter Ackroyd, and others, to be the best book on Dickens ever written.
G.K. Chesterton’s example and writings have influenced many other authors including C.S. Lewis, Neil Gaiman, John Dickson Carr, Dorothy Sayers, Evelyn Waugh, T.S. Eliot, and Graham Greene.
When The Times solicited essays on the theme “What’s Wrong with the World?” Chesterton’s contribution took the form of a letter:
G. K. Chesterton
“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”
“The Declaration of Independence dogmatically bases all rights on the fact that God created all men equal; and it is right; for if they were not created equal, they were certainly evolved unequal. There is no basis for democracy except in a dogma about the divine origin of man.” – Chapter 19, What I Saw In America, 1922
“Marriage is a duel to the death which no man of honour should decline.” – Manalive.
“The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted: precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden.”
“Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.”
“Atheism is indeed the most daring of all dogmas . . . for it is the assertion of a universal negative.”
“It is perfectly obvious that in any decent occupation (such as bricklaying or writing books) there are only two ways (in any special sense) of succeeding. One is by doing very good work, the other is by cheating.”
“I might inform those humanitarians who have a nightmare of new and needless babies (for some humanitarians have that sort of horror of humanity) that if the recent decline in the birth-rate were continued for a certain time, it might end in there being no babies at all; which would console them very much.”