Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Guardian on GK Chesterton

How did this Guardian piece on G.K. Chesterton slip me by?

What interested Chesterton was not the least likely suspect but the least likely motive. Their basic structure, however, is exactly comparable to those of the Father Brown adventures. A quite impossible effect is described, only to be shown, with a climactic flourish, to have had a perfectly possible cause all along. In the fourth story, "The Singular Speculation of the House-Agent", Chesterton's protagonist and alter ego (or alter egoist), Basil Grant, a whimsical judge-turned-flâneur, remarks, "Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." If, as one assumes, it is Chesterton himself who is speaking through Grant, then it was patently his ambition, in all of his shorter texts, to write fiction that would turn out to be stranger than truth.

I came to G.K. Chesterton through his Father Brown Mysteries - which in my opinions is far superior to the Sherlock Holmes stories. Father Brown is concerned with mysteries - in all sense of the word: puzzle, crime, and the elusive realms of the metaphysical and of he human psyche. Most of all, Chesterton, (Gilbert Adair describe him as "ostensibly breezy, life-loving") reminds me of another magnificent writer: Robertson Davies. They work in different styles, but both men wrote with great warmth and human empathy.

By the way, Gilbert Keith Chesterton is one of the authors on the Outmoded Authors Challenge. I'm a little behind on my reading for the challenge (*eeps*) - but I totally intend to catch up in Hanoi with The Man Who Was Thursday.


Anonymous said...

You're taking Proust and Chesterton, nice choices! I have to laught though because I have The Man Who Was Thursday sitting right next to me at this very moment. I plan on starting it tonight! We'll compare notes when you get back from Hanoi :)

darkorpheus said...

Oh yes! Look forward to it! I suspect I'll be copying lots of quotes for my journal from Chesterton. :)

jenclair said...

I've never gotten around to Chesterton and the Father Brown Mysteries. Must correct that. Thanks for the review!

darkorpheus said...

Jenclair We must be online at the same time! You will not regret Chesterton - his books are full of paradoxes and fun. And sometimes he allows himself poetry, and I find myself just re-reading paragraphs for the lush language itself.