G K Chesterton Quotes
G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) was a prolific English writer, was master of many literary forms including essays, poetry, drama, fiction, and nonfiction. His published writings include history, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, philosophy, and fiction, including the delightful Father Brown mysteries.
C. S. Lewis admired Chesterton, and suggested that “For the critics who think Chesterton frivolous or ‘paradoxical’ I have to work hard to feel even pity; sympathy is out of the question.” These quotations may serve as an introduction to this great writer and his thoughtful, often witty, writing.
“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.”
“Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it.”
“Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.”
“Many clever men like you have trusted to civilisation. Many clever Babylonians, many clever Egyptians, many clever men at the end of Rome. Can you tell me, in a world that is flagrant with the failures of civilisation, what there is particularly immortal about yours?”
The Napoleon of Notting Hill. New York: John Lane, 1904. Print. (42-43; ch. 2)
‘”Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction,” said Basil placidly. “For fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it.”‘
The Club of Queer Trades. 1905. Print. (ch. 4)
“For my friend said that he opened his intellect as the sun opens the fans of a palm tree, opening for opening’s sake, opening infinitely for ever. But I said that I opened my intellect as I opened my mouth, in order to shut it again on something solid. I was doing it at the moment. And as I truly pointed out, it would look uncommonly silly if I went on opening my mouth infinitely, for ever and ever.”
Tremendous Trifles. 1909. Print. (ch. V. The Extraordinary Cabman)
“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.” Illustrated London News 16 July 1910. Print.
“We do not want a church that will move with the world. We want a church that will move the world.”
“It is idle to talk always of the alternative of reason and faith. Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all. ” Orthodoxy. 1908. Print. (ch. 3)
“All ceremony depends on symbol; and all symbols have been vulgarized and made stale by the commercial conditions of our time…Of all these faded and falsified symbols, the most melancholy example is the ancient symbol of the flame. In every civilized age and country, it has been a natural thing to talk of some great festival on which “the town was illuminated.” There is no meaning nowadays in saying the town was illuminated…The whole town is illuminated already, but not for noble things. It is illuminated solely to insist on the immense importance of trivial and material things, blazoned from motives entirely mercenary…It has not destroyed the difference between light and darkness, but it has allowed the lesser light to put out the greater…Our streets are in a permanent dazzle, and our minds in a permanent darkness.”