By: Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
Wilde’s literary reputation has survived so much that I think it proof against any exhumation of articles which he or his admirers would have preferred to forget. As a matter of fact, I believe this volume will prove of unusual interest; some of the reviews are curiously prophetic; some are, of course, biassed by prejudice hostile or friendly; others are conceived in the author’s wittiest and happiest vein; only a few are colourless. And if, according to Lord Beaconsfield, the verdict of a continental nation may be regarded as that of posterity, Wilde is a much greater force in our literature than even friendly contemporaries ever supposed he would become...
The Soul of Man
“(T)he past is what man should not have been. The present is what man ought not to be. The future is what artists are.”Published originally as “The Soul of Man Under Socialism,” this is not so much a work of sober political analysis; rather it can be summed up as a rhapsodic manifesto on behalf of the Individual. Socialism having deployed technology to liberate the whole of humanity from soul-destroying labour, the State obligingly withers away to allow the free development of a joyful, anarchic hedonism...
By: G. K. Chesterton
A Short History of England
Gilbert Keith Chesterton was a prolific writer on many topics. His views of history were always from the standpoint of men and their interactions, and it may fairly be said he saw all of history as a battle between civilization and barbarism. So it has always been, and that remains true even today.“But it is especially in the matter of the Middle Ages that the popular histories trample upon the popular traditions. In this respect there is an almost comic contrast between the general information...
The Author Gilbert Keith Chesterton was born in London, England on the 29th of May, 1874. Though he considered himself a mere “rollicking journalist,” he was actually a prolific and gifted writer in virtually every area of literature. A man of strong opinions and enormously talented at defending them, his exuberant personality nevertheless allowed him to maintain warm friendships with people–such as George Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells–with whom he vehemently disagreed. Chesterton had no difficulty standing up for what he believed...
Orthodoxy is a book that has become a classic of Christian apologetics. In the book's preface Chesterton states the purpose is to "attempt an explanation, not of whether the Christian faith can be believed, but of how he personally has come to believe it." In it, Chesterton presents an original view of the Christian religion. He sees it as the answer to natural human needs, the "answer to a riddle" in his own words, and not simply as an arbitrary truth received from somewhere outside the boundaries of human experience.
Eugenics and Other Evils
Most Eugenists are Euphemists. I mean merely that short words startle them, while long words soothe them. And they are utterly incapable of translating the one into the other, however obviously they mean the same thing. Say to them “The persuasive and even coercive powers of the citizen should enable him to make sure that the burden of longevity in the previous generation does not become disproportionate and intolerable, especially to the females”; say this to them and they will sway slightly to and fro like babies sent to sleep in cradles. Say to them “Murder your mother,” and they sit up quite suddenly. Yet the two sentences, in cold logic, are exactly the same.”
Alarms and Discursions
Gilbert Keith Chesterton was an influential English writer of the early 20th century. His prolific and diverse output included journalism, philosophy, poetry, biography, Christian apologetics, fantasy, and detective fiction. Chesterton has been called the “prince of paradox.” He wrote in an off-hand, whimsical prose studded with startling formulations. Chesterton wrote about 4000 essays on various subjects, and “Ararms and Discursions is one of his collections.
What I Saw in America
“Let me begin my American impressions with two impressions I had before I went to America. One was an incident and the other an idea; and when taken together they illustrate the attitude I mean. The first principle is that nobody should be ashamed of thinking a thing funny because it is foreign; the second is that he should be ashamed of thinking it wrong because it is funny.” (Gilbert Keith Chesterton)
The New Jerusalem
“On the road to Cairo one may see twenty groups exactly like that of the Holy Family in the pictures of the Flight into Egypt; with only one difference. The man is riding on the ass.” “The real mistake of the Muslims is something much more modern in its application than any particular passing persecution of Christians as such. It lay in the very fact that they did think they had a simpler and saner sort of Christianity, as do many modern Christians. They thought it could be made universal merely by being made uninteresting...
The Crimes of England
“Second, when telling such lies as may seem necessary to your international standing, do not tell the lies to the people who know the truth. Do not tell the Eskimos that snow is bright green; nor tell the negroes in Africa that the sun never shines in that Dark Continent. Rather tell the Eskimos that the sun never shines in Africa; and then, turning to the tropical Africans, see if they will believe that snow is green. Similarly, the course indicated for you is to slander the Russians to the English and the English to the Russians; and there are hundreds of good old reliable slanders which can still be used against both of them...
George Bernard Shaw
Chesterton and Shaw were famous friends and enjoyed their arguments and discussions. Although rarely in agreement, they both maintained good-will towards and respect for each other. However, in his writing, Chesterton expressed himself very plainly on where they differed and why. In Heretics he writes of Shaw: “After belabouring a great many people for a great many years for being unprogressive, Mr. Shaw has discovered, with characteristic sense, that it is very doubtful whether any existing human being with two legs can be progressive at all...
The Appetite of Tyranny
“Unless we are all mad, there is at the back of the most bewildering business a story: and if we are all mad, there is no such thing as madness. If I set a house on fire, it is quite true that I may illuminate many other people’s weaknesses as well as my own. It may be that the master of the house was burned because he was drunk; it may be that the mistress of the house was burned because she was stingy, and perished arguing about the expense of the fire-escape. It is, nevertheless, broadly true that they both were burned because I set fire to their house. That is the story of the thing. The mere facts of the story about the present European conflagration are quite as easy to tell.”
“None of us think enough of these things on which the eye rests. But don’t let us let the eye rest. Why should the eye be so lazy? Let us exercise the eye until it learns to see startling facts that run across the landscape as plain as a painted fence. Let us be ocular athletes. Let us learn to write essays on a stray cat or a coloured cloud. I have attempted some such thing in what follows; but anyone else may do it better, if anyone else will only try. ” (Gilbert Keith Chesterton)
Another delightful and sharply pointed excursion into the topics of the day, and of our day as well, with Gilbert Keith Chesterton. Here he uses his wit and mastery of paradox to bring into focus a number of historical persons who in many ways typify the people who presently shape our world and who in their own right have already shaped Western civilization. These reprinted magazine articles are filled with his good natured wit and devastating ability to use reductio ad absurdum to destroy the popular myths that drive our society at full-speed into, and expose the utter nonsense that underlies, secular humanism. You will come away with yet another new collection of wonderful quotes.
A Utopia of Usurers
“Now I have said again and again (and I shall continue to say again and again on all the most inappropriate occasions) that we must hit Capitalism, and hit it hard, for the plain and definite reason that it is growing stronger. Most of the excuses which serve the capitalists as masks are, of course, the excuses of hypocrites. They lie when they claim philanthropy; they no more feel any particular love of men than Albu felt an affection for Chinamen. They lie when they say they have reached their position through their own organising ability...
The Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens
“These papers were originally published as prefaces to the separate books of Dickens in one of the most extensive of those cheap libraries of the classics which are one of the real improvements of recent times. Thus they were harmless, being diluted by, or rather drowned in Dickens. My scrap of theory was a mere dry biscuit to be taken with the grand tawny port of great English comedy; and by most people it was not taken at all–like the biscuit. Nevertheless the essays were not in intention so aimless as they appear in fact...
A Miscellany of Men
Gilbert Keith Chesterton was among the world’s most prolific writers who incorporated relentless logic, wonderful humor, and a clear view of truth into an amazing tool for exposing the foolishness of the policies of the world around him through the device of paradox.It is always great fun, and certainly always a learning experience to read Chesterton. A Miscellany of Men may be his hardest work to define, as it deals with a huge array of issues, using “personal types” as illustration. It would...
There is an old anecdote, probably apocryphal, which describes how a feminine admirer wrote to Browning asking him for the meaning of one of his darker poems, and received the following reply: “When that poem was written, two people knew what it meant–God and Robert Browning. And now God only knows what it means.
“The paradox of all this part of his life lies in this–that, destined as he was to be the greatest enemy of Mahomedanism, he was quite exceptionally a friend of Mahomedans.”
By: Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)
Jack and Jill
Louisa May Alcott, more famously known for her Little Women series, takes a familiar nursery rhyme and creates a whole novel out of it in one of her last books Jack and Jill: A Village Story. Though she continued to publish under the penname AM Barnard, this book probably marked the end of a particular writing phase in 1880. Jack and Jill is set in the fictional Harmony Village. On a December afternoon, the youngsters of the village are out enjoying the bracing cold and snow. The bright winter shines down as they have fun skating and sledding...
An Old-Fashioned Girl
Polly Milton, a 14-year-old country girl, visits her friend Fanny Shaw and her wealthy family in the city for the first time. Poor Polly is overwhelmed by the splendor at the Shaws’ and their urbanized, fashionable lifestyles, fancy clothes and some other habits she considers weird and, mostly, unlikable. However, Polly’s warmth, support and kindness eventually win her the hearts of all the family members. Six years later, Polly comes back to the city to become a music teacher.
Jo’s Boys is the third book in the Little Women trilogy by Louisa May Alcott, published in 1886. In it, Jo’s “children”, now grown, are caught up in real world troubles. All three books – although fiction – are highly autobiographical and describe characters that were really in Alcott’s life. This book contains romance as the childhood playmates become flirtatious young men and women. The characters are growing up, going out into the world and deciding their futures.
Alcott in 1862 served as a nurse in Georgetown, D.C during the Civil War. She wrote home what she observed there. Those harrowing and sometimes humorous letters compiled make up Hospital Sketches.
By: Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865)
The Life Of Charlotte Brontë
Charlotte Brontë was a British author, the eldest of the three famous Brontë sisters who have become standards of English literature. She is best known for her novel Jane Eyre, one of the greatest classics of all time. Just two years after Charlotte’s death, her friend Elizabeth Gaskell wrote her biography. Want to know more about Charlotte Brontë? If you do, please read this biography.
By: Edith Wharton (1862-1937)
Fighting France, from Dunkerque to Belfort
American novelist Edith Wharton was living in Paris when World War I broke out in 1914. She obtained permission to visit sites behind the lines, including hospitals, ravaged villages, and trenches. Fighting France records her travels along the front in 1914 and 1915, and celebrates the indomitable spirit of the French people.
By: Stephen Leacock (1869-1944)
Chronicles of Canada -- Dawn of Canadian History: Aboriginal Canada
Most readers of Stephen Leacock's works are familiar with his witty and humorous writings, but few may be aware that he was also a gifted teacher, political ideologue, economist and fiction writer. Though he wrote six books on Canadian history, none of them attained the status of a standard text on the subject and were regarded more as opinion pieces without much academic foundation. Yet, the Chronicles of Canada series by Stephen Leacock remains an interesting and entertaining read. In this volume, Dawn of Canadian History: Aboriginal Canada, which is part of a thirty-two book series of short and simple essays, Leacock explores the little known origins of Canada's past...
The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice
This lengthy political essay by noted Canadian humourist Stephen Leacock was written while he was professor of political economy at McGill University. He argues for a middle ground between individualism/capitalism and pure socialism. Listeners in the early 21st century may find this 90-year old essay oddly topical.
By: George MacDonald
George MacDonald was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister. In his day he was considered one of the great Victorian authors on par with Dickens, Thackeray, Kipling and the like. His reputation as an author, however, has not fared as well largely because of the ubiquitous and fervent presence of religion throughout his works.MacDonald's theology, though sprinkled liberally throughout his fairly substantial number of books, is perhaps nowhere more palpable than in Unspoken Sermons. These sermons, though by no means amongst the most popular of MacDonald's work, have had theological impact from their first appearance...
By: Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
Beyond Good and Evil
Beyond Good and Evil, by Friedrich Nietzsche A searing indictment of concepts like “truth” and “language” Beyond Good and Evil, by Friedrich Nietzsche is a deeply thought provoking book that forms one of the keystones of modern thought and politics. In this book, Nietzsche takes the position that our subservience to fixed perspectives that are forced on us by our language and our ideals make us incapable of perceiving reality. He propounds the theory that ideals are not fixed but change over time, often dramatically, and end up becoming the exact opposite of what they originally were...
Save for his raucous, rhapsodical autobiography, Ecce Homo, The Antichrist is the last thing that Nietzsche ever wrote, and so it may be accepted as a statement of some of his most salient ideas in their final form. Of all Nietzsche’s books, The Antichrist comes nearest to conventionality in form. It presents a connected argument with very few interludes, and has a beginning, a middle and an end.
By: Joseph Conrad (1857-1924)
The Mirror of the Sea
The Mirror of the Sea is a collection of autobiographical essays first published in various magazines 1904-6. Conrad early in his life earned his bread as a Master Mariner in sailing ships. In his Author’s Note to this work, Conrad states,”Beyond the line of the sea horizon the world for me did not exist….Within these pages I make a full confession not of my sins but of my emotions. It is the best tribute my piety can offer to the ultimate shapers of my character, convictions, and, in a sense, destiny—to the imperishable sea, to the ships that are no more, and to the simple men who have had their day.”
By: Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896)
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