Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why Chesterton?

Gilbert Keith Chesterton was as big a man as ever cut a caper, danced a jig or jumped. He was fat, you see, and funny, and we forget now, he was not just the apologist memorialized by The Paulist Press, embraced nowadays by Catholics, conservatives, and cranks as the last English saint. He was a great humorist -- a deadly word, I know -- and a genuine wit, whatever his politics or theology, or how he mixed the two. He is delightful, frankly, even when he is wrong, overheated, or too eager to please. I like him best with his beads in his pocket and a beer in his hand, or, as here, with a piece of chalk. He is, at heart, a big fat boy and best when when he is happiest; reading Dickens, drawing pictures, sharing something unexpected, when truant or lost in fantasies.

Why G. K. Chesterton? Because he belongs as much or more to English literature, and to me, as he does to the priests, the prigs and the strangely solemn readers of The Man Who Was Thursday.

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