Friday, August 28, 2009

Fraid of change?

When I discovered GK Chesterton, the biggest question in my mind was "Where have you been all my life?" Funny how he was practically invisible all this time; I have never gotten my hands on a copy of any of his books, and perhaps the only glimpse I had of the man before graduating college (!) was when I stumbled upon a quote of his in a Neil Gaiman book, and even then I didn't notice enough to remember the name.

What is really puzzling is I graduated with degree in BA-Creative Writing, which means I'm a specimen most people call an English major, supposedly an expert on anything and everything written in the English language. And here I am all ignorant of the works of one of the greatest English writers (thinkers) of the 20th century.

But wait! Here's an interesting article my friend Ditas came across. (She is primary person I complained to about the lack of Chesterton in the CW curriculum.) Read, read!


Author calls for end of 'academic embargo' on GK Chesterton
Paul Nowak

Despite having a profound influence on the 20th century, English author G.K. Chesterton has remained virtually unknown to modern readers. This discrepancy may be due to an unwillingness for universities and colleges to include him in literary and history curriculum.

“The academic embargo against recognition of Chesterton’s stature remains in place, for reasons which remain a matter of speculation,” states William Oddie in the introduction to his biography published earlier this year, Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy: The Making of GKC.

Perhaps it is the effect Chesterton has on college students. In 1909, Mohandas Gandhi read one of Chesterton’s regular columns for the Illustrated London News, and was, according to his biographers, “thunderstruck” by the idea of truly Indian independence. He translated the article, and it became the basis for his book Hind Swaraj.

C.S. Lewis, who read Chesterton while serving in the army, has said that it was Chesterton who first showed him that the Christian world view made sense. J.R.R. Tolkien, as well as other Inklings, were also greatly influenced by Chesterton.

His friends, H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw, though they did not agree with him upheld him as an important literary figure, both in their own time and for future generations. T.H White, author of The Once and Future King, remarked upon G.K.C.’s death that he had been the greatest living master of the English language.


Why then has G.K. Chesterton been left out of academia? Perhaps, after seeing what Chesterton’s influence has done to shape the literary and political reality the 20th Century, colleges and universities are wary of that degree of change in the 21st Century.


Read the whole thing here.


John-D Borra said...

I adore Chesterton! His Father Brown detective stories are delightful. Of his novels, I enjoy re-reading The Napoleon of Notting Hill, and one of my favorites, The Man who was Thursday.

petrufied said...

hi there john-d! i'm still on the look out for any book by chesterton hehe i want to add him to my library :D will look up those books you mentioned. thanks!

Anonymous said...

It would seem that some people are afraid of the changes that study of G.K. Chesterton may bring about is because G.K. Chesterton is CHRISTIAN. The Christian faith is a "threat" to the hedonistic and anti-religion worldview that permeates much of the world.

All the more reason, then, to read G.K. Chesterton! I should get started.

ditas said...

i have a copy of The Man Who Was Thursday, The Club of Queer Trades, Everlasting Man, and an anthology of Father Brown stories, Nicole. i just have to unearth them from the crates that have yet to be opened from my transfer. I promise to lend them to you as soon as...

btw, would you happen to have the copy of the VCD "Music of the Hearts"? or is it with Diana?