G.K. Chesterton inspired C.S. Lewis. I was first introduced to Chesterton’s work through a friend of mine a number of years ago when I owned a used bookshop. We had a reading club focused on the writings of The Inklings (CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Dorthy L Sayers, etc.). We never really got to Chesterton’s work but my good friend Professor Jerry Bradford of Misericordia University and leader of the book club; who is in my opinion one of the most knowledgeable persons I have meet on literature written by these gifted storytellers, highly suggested further reading of Chesterton’s collections. Now many years later I am finally finding the place to begin to read his works. By Dr. Bradford’s recommendation I will start with this non-fiction piece called “Orthodoxy”. If you haven’t read this book I encourage you to. If you have read it and/or want to discuss the quotes, feel free to comment. Just keep it positive. I will be adding notes & quotes as I continue to read.
All quotes come from C. K. Chesterton’s book “Orthodoxy” first published in 1908. The copy I hold is the published from the 1934 reprint from Great Brittin by William Clowes and Sons, Limited, London and Beccles
A PDF version is available free at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/130 as well as many of his books.
“Complete self-confidence is not merely a sin; complete self-confidence is a weakness.” pg 5 Chapter II “The Maniac”
“Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination.” pg 7 Chapter II “The Maniac”
“To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.” pg 8 Chapter II “The Maniac”
“Their attitude is really this: that the man must stop thinking, if he is to go on living. Their counsel is one of intellectual amputation. If thy head offend thee, cut it off; for it is better, not merely to enter the Kingdom of Heaven as a child, but to enter it as an imbecile, rather than with your whole intellect to be cast into hell…” pg 12 Chapter II “The Maniac”
“The sane man knows that he has a touch of the beast, a touch of the devil, a touch of the saint, a touch of the citizen. Nay, the really sane man knows that he has a touch of the madman. But the materialist’s world is quite simple and solid, just as the madman is quite sure he is sane. The materialist is sure that history has been simply and solely a chain of causation, just as the interesting person before mentioned is quite sure that he is simply and solely a chicken. Materialists and madmen never have doubts.” pg 14 Chapter II “The Maniac”
“Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; When you destroy mystery you create morbidity.” pg 17 Chapter II “The Maniac”
“Buddhism is centripetal, but Christianity is centrifugal: it breaks out. For the circle is perfect and infinite in its nature; but it is fixed for ever in its size; it can never be larger or smaller. But the cross, though it has as its heart a collission and a contradiction, can extend its four arms for ever without ever altering its shape. Because it has a paradox in its centre it can grow without changing. The circle returns upon itself and is bound. The cross opens its arms to the four winds; it is a signpost for free travellers.” pg 18 Chapter II “The Maniac”