Chesterton: A Miscellany of Men

June 6, 2014

A Miscellany of Men
G.K. Chesterton
(Dufour, 1969) [1912]
180 p.

This is a collection of Chesterton’s newspaper columns, about 40 in total, written for (I believe) The Daily Mail. As the title indicates, the essays cut a wide swath, but are unified insofar as each focuses on a particular “character” or “figure” who might have been found walking the streets of London in 1910. Thus these pieces bear titles such as “The Suffragist”, “The Miser and his Friends”, “The Mummer”, “The Sentimental Scot”, and so forth. In some cases the material has become dated, but not in as many cases as you might think. This is mostly due to the fact that Chesterton was, famously and incorrigibly, unable to stick to the point. Whatever the ostensible point of any particular column was, it almost always broadened out to include interesting observations on any number of topics: gothic architecture, tourism, umbrellas, ritual, millionaires, democracy, and so on.

Today I am not really inclined to cite quotations, especially since I plan to reserve the choicest of them for The Hebdomadal Chesterton. What I can do, however, is direct the interested reader to a few of the essays that I considered the best, which can be read in their entirety at leisure. Thus: “The Man who Thinks Backwards”, “The Real Journalist”, “The Conscript and the Crisis”, “The Architect of Spears”, and “The Angry Author” (an autobiographical piece, oddly enough).

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