Defending Sanity

My wife got me for Christmas an anthology of essays by G.K. Chesterton. (This isn’t really a book review as I haven’t finished the book.)

Confession: I know a bazillion people online who love GKC. Although I have several of his books, and have tried to read him, I had found them difficult to get through. I attempted “What’s Wrong with the World” and made it through a few essays. As a Distributist, I read “The Outline of Sanity”, one of the basic texts in forming the movement. That, I finished. Understood the gist of it, so what I came for I got out, but there were many references to then-contemporary English life and business I failed to grasp.

I was getting to think that if you’re a Catholic with literary pretensions, not to mention opinions on politics and economics that are contraray to the conventional, you’re “supposed to” like GKC. Sort of how you’re “supposed to” like the film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” because, well, it stars Redford and Newman, it’s a revolutionary Western and all the critics loved it. (Seriously, “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head?” In a Western? And the cowboy is riding a bike?) But I hated “Butch…” At the end I was rooting for the Bolivians.

Which doesn’t mean that I hated Chesterton. I just found the material I’ve tried (what’s that word used for when something is “hard?”) “inaccessible.” Yes, I had difficulty accessing Chesterton.


No matter. The book Rosey got for me, In Defense Of Sanity The Best Essays of G.K. Chesterton, is different. I am quite hooked. Perhaps you can’t just start with “any” GKC book. Perhaps you have to start somewhere that I hadn’t.

But I’m loving the experience. Chesterton has a manner of developing his point, which seems to typically involve a roundabout way of getting to. Possibly because it seems he also uses an inverted way of looking at things. Not that I mind. I am finding that Chesterton can take as long as he needs to get to the point he is making and he can look at things from any perspective he chooses, I’m enjoying the ride.

It’s intriguing that you can actually make an entire essay on what you find in your pockets sound interesting.

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One Response to Defending Sanity

  1. Bird says:

    I remember reading “The Notting Hill Napoleon,” before I knew of Chesterton’s reputation. I persevered, on point of principle, and found that I was completely hooked by the fourth chapter. He is well worth the effort.

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