G.K. Chesterton

Does anyone have any recommendations for which Chesterton works to start with first?

send a note to the gentleman that does the Chesterton show on EWTN. I’m sure he would give you some great advice.

I would recommend Orthodoxy.
It is not an easy read, but has profound insights. Chesterton takes a while to get used to. I found myself wondering where he was going with some of his arguments, and then “wham” he ties it up in a nice bow and make me think “wow, that is pretty awesome.”

Eugenics and Other Evils: an Argument against the Scientifically Organized Society”.

My wife bought a number of books for me for Christmas. Father Brown by Chesterton is among them.

How do you know what you’re getting for Christmas already? Did you peek in the closet?

Are you looking for a fiction or non-fiction suggestion?

the Father Brown stories

No, the modern equivalent, checking her browser history :smiley:

As to Chesterton, Eugenics is good, Heretics & Orthodox which I’m reading right now are interesting.

While I think Orthodoxy is probably the best non-fiction book, I think Heretics is an easier read (it slows down a bit towards the end, though). I’d recommend the Ignatius Collected Works volume that has Heretics and Orthodoxy, for the footnotes.

The Father Brown stories are kind of fun, but for nonfiction my list would start and end with Man Who Was Thursday. Literally, I’d read it first, then some Father Brown or Club of Queer Trades, then go back and read it again.

Thanks for all the suggestions! I’m looking for non-fiction, but not opposed to fiction. Sounds like Orthodoxy is good place to start. I’m going to check out the show on EWTN too. Thanks.

Are these really that good? I started with the first two chapters, but found them rather boring. Is it worth reading on?

The Father Brown stories are the literary equivalent of cotton candy. They are sweet and light and enjoyable, but rarely memorable. There are a couple exceptions: some of the more “Catholic” stories are collected in a book called “Father Brown of the Church of Rome” and those tend to be a bit meatier, but by and large, they are amusing past times.

I wouldn’t spend money on them: many are on Gutenberg.org.

Actually my lovely wife keeps hounding me. I don’t really want anything, so I end up asking for books.

Besides, how would I get to the Northpole to look in Santa’s closet…so silly.:stuck_out_tongue:

From the Chesterton Society:

Quite a few of of his books are available as audiobooks from LibriVox:

The Napoleon of Notting Hill was one of my favorites.

IMO the best detective and best mystery series in the English language and I have read most of them

For a good introduction to his non-fiction, I would suggest Tremendous Trifles. It is comparitively light and very enjoyable to read, and filled with wonderful insights. :slight_smile:

Thanks. Just added this one to my kindle as well.


You might be interested in an article on G. K. Chesterton by the late Fr. Richard Neuhaus called Chesterton and the Thereness of It


Numerous other Chesterton pages on the same blog – reading selections from The Everlasting Man and Orthodoxy will give you a quick overview of the books – wonderful if you have read them before.

Reading selections from The Size of Chesterton’s Catholicism:


"Finally, it is said by some that Catholicism is detachment from the world, and so Catholics are detached from real life. This position supposes that the most characteristic Catholic act, were one not too cowardly to do it, would be retreating from the world to a cloistered celibacy (monastic or clerical). Chesterton received quite a different impression from his encounter with a certain celibate.

In The Autobiography he relates the circumstances under which he conceived the Father Brown mysteries, a set of detective stories revolving around a priest whose detective powers arc enhanced by a knowledge of human nature accrued over years of hearing confessions. Chesterton was already thinking of a possible storyline, though not yet with a clerical detective, when he shared the plot of vice and crime with Father John O’Connor during a walk.

To his surprise, the priest pointed out some incredibilities in the plot line due to a naiveté on Chesterton’s part about the perverted practice. “In my own youth I had imagined for myself any amount of iniquity; and it was a curious experience to find that this quiet and pleasant celibate had plumbed those abysses far deeper than I. I had not imagined that the world could hold such horrors.”

When the two reached the house, Chesterton watched Father O’Connor chat with some of his other friends, a conversation of a completely different, lighter variety. When it had finished and the priest had left the room, Chesterton overheard one of his peers remark, ‘All the same, I don’t believe his sort of life is the right one. It’s all very well to like religious music and so on, when you’re all shut up in a sort of cloister and don’t know anything about the real evil in the world. But I don’t believe that’s the right idea. I believe in a fellow coming out into the world, and facing the evil that’s in it, and knowing something about the dangers and all that. It’s a very beautiful thing to be innocent and ignorant; but I think it’s a much finer thing not to be afraid of knowledge.”

The coincidence of having just been taught something about wickedness by Father O’Connor and then hearing the opinion that the priest’s sheltered life made him naive about the ways of the world, in a pitiable sort of way, struck Chesterton as such an irony that he confesses to having nearly laughed out loud. “I was surprised at my own surprise. That the Catholic Church knew more about good than I did was easy to believe. That she knew more about evil than I did seemed in’ credible.”

The charge that the priest’s knowledge of evil was unrealistic because Catholics are called upon to be innocent and ignorant could be met by the same reply Chesterton gives to his contemporaries who accuse the Victorians of being prudish. The Victorian was accused of trying to pre*serve innocence by averting his or her eyes from a realistic view of the world. This does not quite have it right. “What disgusted him, and very justly, was not the presence of a clear realism, but the absence of a clear idealism. Strong and genuine religious sentiment has never had any objection to realism; on the contrary, religion was the realistic thing, the brutal thing, the thing that called names.

Chesterton refuses to say with the unrealistic optimist that there is nothing wrong with the world, but he also refuses to say with the unrealistic pessimist that the world is too evil to be enjoyed. The world can be enjoyed ideally, under the rules of conditional joy, and Catholicism preserves the conditions in order to protect the joys."


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