I've been hearing about G.K. Chesterton for a while now. I've spied clever quotes by him on blogs and facebook profiles. This is a man who wrote a book that contributed to C.S. Lewis' conversion to Christianity, which sounded impressive to me. So in my first official "for fun" reading, I picked up not a novel, but G.K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense.
It was quite enjoyable! While you do have to get past the fact that the author clearly worships the ground Chesterton walks on, he gives a good introductory overview to the man and his writings. It was amazing to see how Chesterton's observations continue to ring true almost a hundred years later. He wrote all kinds of things and on all kinds of topics. I was a little less interested in his writings about politics and a little more interested in his writings about Christianity and the Church (he eventually became Catholic). I also think it would be fun to read some of his mystery stories. Perhaps most immediately, though, I'd like to read some more of his thoughts on womanhood.
Here's a taste:
Now if anyone says that this duty of general enlightenment [of children]... is in itself too exacting and oppressive, I can understand the view. I can only answer that our race has thought it worth while to cast this burden on women in order to keep common-sense in the world. But when people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets cakes. and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.
Are you a Chesterton fan? What's your favorite quote of his?