Monday, August 5, 2013

Tremendous Trifles by G.K. Chesterton

A while back, my friend and I were trying to find out the who said this quote

"Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten"

To me, this sounds like G.K. Chesterton (He is seriously one of my favourite authors!), but the internet was saying Neil Gaiman. My friend was saying that Neil Gaiman was quoting G.K. Chesterton. So after some searching, I found that this this quote is an approximation of the following quote from G.K. Chesterton's Tremendous Trifles:

"Fairy tales. then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child  his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear  idea of the possible defeat of bogey."

Sorry, it was too good not to quote in full.

Anyway, Tremendous Trifles is a collection of Chesterton's columns in The Daily Mail. The language is beautiful (I cannot stop highlight/marking passages in my iPad) and humourous. The content is what Chesterton himself calls "a sort of sporadic diary", where he talks about about things that happen to catch his eye.

What Chesterton does best is to make the mundane magical. It's something that I can identify with more than ever, as I vacillate between the feeling that Japan is my home and the wonder of the tourist.

Another thing that caught my eye was the chapter on travelling. He says that

The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land it is to at least set food on one's own country as a foreign land."
I'm going home to Singapore in a month, and I wonder if this is true. It is definitely something to make me think.

Chesterton may be called the master without a masterpiece, but I think his talent lay in taking a small, everyday occurrence and for those few precious pages, spun it into a brilliant gem.

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