The Chestertonian Enigma

The Man Who Was Thursday Audio reviewed

I do not share my coreligionists enthusiasm for Chesterton.  I've tried.  I've tried and I've tried and there is just something about him--perhaps the "hale fellow well met" sense I get from some of the essays, I don't know, but I don't enjoy much of Chesterton's work.  This book is a prime case in point.  I've read it twice and have absolutely no recollection of it whatsoever.  I often "blank" a book which holds no point of interest for me.  The review tempts me to a third reading and a possible new appreciation for Chesterton.


  1. I like the apothegmatic snippets or isolated GKC quotations I happen across from time to time. And he is perhaps an able essayist. But when it comes to his poems, I am decidedly unenthusiastic. There's only so much ballad meter one can take! (A prejudice on my part: Unless it's Emily Dickinson doing the ballad meter, I get quickly allergic. I can't even read the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.)

    Oh, Chesterton! Oh, Chesterton!
    Thy jingles are so merry.
    They traipse along and sing their song
    And irritate me very.

    What gets my goat is the way he'll use a light-verse tone like this about the most solemn of topics. The Incarnation, the Crucifixion.

    He died upon the cross, He did
    And it was very painful,
    So we lament this Innocent
    With elegiacs baneful.

    The tomb is empty -- yes, it is!
    Our Lord is dead no more!
    This Easter song is just so wrong;
    I'm quite the bloody bore.

  2. Dear Dylan,

    Agree entirely on the "Quotable Chesterton." I find some parts of the biographies and some essays anywhere from tolerable to excellent. But the poetry--ugh! When they start dragging that stuff out, I shudder and wonder what they are thinking. If you want that--take Belloc's Tales for Naughty children--at least the rhyming and rhythm makes sense within the convention of what he's trying to accomplish.

    Chesterton's poetry, for the most part, is of a kind that does little for me and, in general, gives a bad name to versification.




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