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He says of that glorious riot of horror, 'The Destroying Angel,' in 'The Dynamiter,' that it is 'highly fantastic and putting a strain on our credulity. It was the whole tragedy of Carlyle that he had the first and not the second. Whitman returns to nature by seeing how much he can accept, Tolstoy by seeing how much he can reject. Nisbet Bain, is calculated to draw particular attention to this ethical and ascetic side of Tolstoy's work. Chesterton forgoes his usual derision here: 'The Christianity of Tolstoy is, when we come to consider it, one of the most thrilling and dramatic incidents in our modern civilisation.

It represents a tribute to the Christian religion more sensational than the breaking of seals or the falling of stars. From the point of view of a rationalist, the whole world is rendered almost irrational by the single phenomenon of Christian Socialism. It turns the scientific universe topsy-turvy, and makes it essentially possible that the key of all social evolution may be found in the dusty casket of some discredited creed. It cannot be amiss to consider this phenomenon as it really is. This we shall not know until we are civilised. It may be hoped, in one sense, that we may never understand Savonarola.

These very short profiles are gems. View 2 comments. Apr 07, Jim rated it it was amazing Shelves: chesterton , essays , literature. Whenever I feel that the shadows are gathering around me, and all my efforts are coming to naught, I pick up a volume of G. Chesterton and find that I've just been looking at things through the wrong end of the telescope.

Twelve Types: A Collection of Mini-Biographies is ostensibly a collection of essays on literary subjects. I don't know why the subtitle refers to "Mini-Biographies," because GKC is not interested in biographies. Instead he concentrates on how we see the world around us, as suggested by the lives and w Whenever I feel that the shadows are gathering around me, and all my efforts are coming to naught, I pick up a volume of G.

Some he excoriates, like Carlyle and Tolstoy, for urging us into dead ends; others, like Scott, he praises for seeing things in a different light, even when it has seemed to become unfashionable: Closely connected with this is one of the charges most commonly brought against Scott, particularly in his own day—the charge of a fanciful and monotonous insistence upon the details of armour and costume. The critic in the 'Edinburgh Review' said indignantly that he could tolerate a somewhat detailed description of the apparel of Marmion, but when it came to an equally detailed account of the apparel of his pages and yeomen the mind could bear it no longer.

The only thing to be said about that critic is that he had never been a little boy. He foolishly imagined that Scott valued the plume and dagger of Marmion for Marmion's sake. Not being himself romantic, he could not understand that Scott valued the plume because it was a plume, and the dagger because it was a dagger.

Like a child, he loved weapons with a manual materialistic love, as one loves the softness of fur or the coolness of marble. One of the profound philosophical truths which are almost confined to infants is this love of things, not for their use or origin, but for their own inherent characteristics, the child's love of the toughness of wood, the wetness of water, the magnificent soapiness of soap. So it was with Scott, who had so much of the child in him. Human beings were perhaps the principal characters in his stories, but they were certainly not the only characters.

A battle-axe was a person of importance, a castle had a character and ways of its own. A church bell had a word to say in the matter. Like a true child, he almost ignored the distinction between the animate and inanimate. A two-handed sword might be carried only by a menial in a procession, but it was something important and immeasurably fascinating—it was a two-handed sword.


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There is something about being able to rotate the axis of one's life by a few degrees so that the sun shines more brightly and the megrims are dispelled. Sometimes I think he was the greatest psychologist who ever lived. There's no one I'd rather read literary criticism from than G. True, he doesn't usually deal in hard facts or provide much in the way of evidential support for his arguments, but what he does do is give you tons of interesting ideas to mull over, and he presents them in some of the most eloquent, sophisticated prose I've ever seen.

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The title for this book is wrong. In no way could these essays be construed as "mini-biographies. Chesterton will make you look at each of them in a new light. His essay on Sir Walter Scott is particularly amazing, both in terms of substance and style. Since you can download both books for free on Amazon, you might as well go for the one with all the additional content. Oct 22, Stephen Heiner rated it it was amazing Shelves: biography. If you enjoy Chesterton and biographies, this tiny work is a treat, as you get his inimitable prose together with snapshots of individuals who seem only connected by their being of interest to Chesterton, namely: Charlotte Bronte William Morris Lord Byron Alexander Pope St.

When a young man can elect deliberately to walk alone in winter by the side of the shattering sea, when he takes pleasure in storms and stricken peaks, and the lawless melancholy of the older earth, we may deduce with the certainty of logic that he is very young and very happy.

Men have overstrained themselves and killed themselves through English athleticism. There is one difference and one only: we do feel the love of sport; we do not feel the love of religious offices. We see only the price in the one case and only the purchase in the other. It is only when we have seen it for the hundredth time that we see it for the first time.

It is not the plain facts of the world which stand in the way of that consummation, but its passions of vanity and self-advertisement and morbid sensibility. Deeper than all these lies a man's vision of himself, as swaggering and sentimental as a penny novelette. Dec 25, Erunion rated it really liked it Shelves: 20th-century , biographies , criticism , literature , own. Chesterton is not the sort of writer you read for logical argument.

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You will find no brilliantly set forth syllogisms. You will find no premises that support their conclusions. Nor will you find a brilliant explanation of a fallacy that will completely devastate the other side. Chesterton is not that sort of writer.

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Rather, in him you find a writer with brilliant, and witty, insights. Chesterton is the sort of author that does not change your conclusions, but instead he changes the very way yo Chesterton is not the sort of writer you read for logical argument. Chesterton is the sort of author that does not change your conclusions, but instead he changes the very way you think. Often you will emerge from his writing with something you hadn't thought about.

Famous Biographies: Introduction

Consider quotes such as: "There are no chains of houses; there are no crowds of men. The colossal diagram of streets and houses is an illusion, the opium dream of a speculative builder. Each of these men is supremely solitary and supremely important to himself.

Each of these houses stands in the centre of the world. There is no single house of all those millions which has not seemed to someone at some time the heart of all things and the end of travel. England in the present season and spirit fails in satire for the same reason that it fails in war: it despises the enemy.

Even when they are inspired or in love they talk inanities. But the poetic comedy does not misrepresent the speech one half so much, as the speech misrepresents the soul. The superficial impression of the world is by far the deepest. What we really feel, naturally and casually, about the look of the skies and trees and the face of friends, that and that alone will almost certainly remain our vital philosophy to our dying day. If you have read his biography of Thomas Aquinas, you probably know what to expect of the biographies here; they are short on biographical substance, but very long on understanding the essence of the writers.

Even if he completely misunderstands what each writer was about, he still nonetheless understands them on a very fundamental level. The introduction is, unfortunately, subpar.

It seeks to claim that Chesterton is not a modern individualist at all, and then goes to prove that in a very Like far too many introductions, it is often seeking to prove something that perhaps does not need to be proved at all. Aug 14, Steve rated it really liked it Shelves: books-of , biography , essays , history.

A fine set of cameos - in GKC's inimitable style. Makes me want to read Scott, Bronte and Pope. Oct 05, Rex Libris rated it it was amazing. History has cast him as the Robespierre-lite of the Renaissance, but Chesterton holds that he save the people of the Renaissance from the being the victims of their own smug, self-satisfaction.

I can see echoes of that today. We are material quite well off, but cannot interact with others except through electronic messaging.

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Some of the people I am totally unfamiliar with their works, but I suppose this will give me an impetus to go and read them. Mar 03, John Yelverton rated it really liked it. I don't know if I would say that these are biographies so much as essays on each person's writing style. Chesterton, being a master of the craft himself, does it with panache on the authors he likes and eviscerates those he does not.

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It's a testimony to the craft, and well worth a bibliophile's time to read. Nov 23, Kenneth rated it it was amazing. This little volume, originally published in , is a collection of short pieces Chesterton wrote originally for publication in contemporary periodicals of his day. They are a mix of historical, cultural and literary criticism in content, and left me with an urge to read more of the works of the novelists included - Charlotte Bronte, Robert Louis Stevenson, Leo Tolstoy and Sir Walter Scott.

Perhaps I will, although I own a zillion books I have yet to read, so they will have competition for my a This little volume, originally published in , is a collection of short pieces Chesterton wrote originally for publication in contemporary periodicals of his day.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Perhaps I will, although I own a zillion books I have yet to read, so they will have competition for my attention. Chesterton throughout these essays scattered numerous allusions to various persons and events of his time and before, which the editor of this edition was kindly enough to identify in a series of footnotes.

The cultural landscape of the late 19th century is seen in these essays and Chesterton, for all his originality, was a product of his time and place. He became very sick in the island, lost a lot of weight and was forced to return to Paris in a hurry without having visited the tomb. Because of regional racism, Ting was arrested on several occasions and prevented from accompanying Schwob in some parts of the trip.

Schwob complained about this in his letters to Moreno. He stayed for two weeks in Crawford's villa in Sant'Agnello in Sorrento. Bored, he left for France, stopping in Aix-les-Bains where his wife joined him. His health had further worsened and they returned to Paris.