Tuesday, January 21, 2014

All Things Considered by G.K. Chesterton

Every time I read a book by Chesterton, I come away with a ton of quotes that I just want to memorise. This book is no exception.

All Things Considered is a collection of Chesterton's essays for London Daily News and covers a wide variety of topics. Some of the topics are light-hearted (for example, when he talks about canvassing for votes), while others are a bit more serious (basically when he starts talking about religion or science). But even when he's serious, he's not ponderous. Then again, he does say in the second paragraph of the book:

Their [the essays] chief vice is that so many of them are very serious; because I had no time to make them flippant. It is so easy to be solemn; it is hard to be frivolous.
It's ok Chesterton, I think you weren't that serious.

There's even a chapter on fairy-tales (and I love reading Chesterton when he talks about fairy-tales), and of course, I loved it. He compared journalists to fairies, which is something you definitely don't read about every day. But my favourite quote doesn't talk about journalists, it talks about the nature of fairyland. If you've read Orthodoxy or anything that involves fairy-tales, you'll notice that Chesterton is sort of like C.S. Lewis. Lewis believed that all myths foreshadow Christianity (see The Weight of Glory). So does Chesterton. It's a really long quote, but I don't feel I can cut anything out!

If you really read the fairy-tales, you will observe that one idea runs from one end of them to the other - the idea that peace and happiness can only exist on some condition. This idea, which is the core of ethics, is the core of the nursery-tales. The whole happiness of fairyland hangs upon a thread, upon one thread. Cinderella may have a dress woven on supernatural looms and blazing with unearthly brilliance, but she must be back when the clock strikes twelve. The king may invite fairies to the christening, but he must invite all the fairies or frightful results will follow. Bluebeard's wife may open all doors but one. A promise is broken to a cat and the whole world goes wrong. A promise is broken to a yellow dwarf an the whole world goes wrong. A girl may be the bride of the God of Love himself if she never tries to see him; she sees him, and he vanishes away. A girl is given a box on condition she does not open it; she opens it, and all the evils of the world rush out at her. A man and woman are put in a garden on condition they do no eat one fruit: the eat it, and lose their joy in all the fruits of the earth. 
I love how Chesterton goes from the traditional fairy-tales, to the myths and finally, to the Bible. I think that by using fairy-tales and myths, he makes one see the Bible in a fresh light.

I don't agree with his viewpoint on a lot of things (what he says about Asia, for example, feels a lot like a White Man's Burden mentality), but he's just so entertaining that I wasn't even offended.

This is definitely a book that you should read. It's entertaining and will give you food for thought.

No comments :

Post a Comment

I really do appreciate all comments, and I'll try my best to reply within 24 hours!