Quotes from G. K. Chesterton: Author of the Father Brown Stories, many essays and poems

Chesterton at work

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GK Chesterton quotes

G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) was an English Journalist, critic, essayist, author and Poet.

I have been a fan of Chesterton since college days. He wrote the classic series of short story mysteries about Father Brown, the clerical detective. He also had observations on Philosophy and Theology. I especially liked his unique view of life and society which is epitomized in his famous paradoxes, seeming contradictions. The following quotations are a sampling of his view.

Love and Truth

“To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.”

“Love means to love that which is unlovable; or it is no virtue at all.”


In other words love has to be unconditional to be real.

“It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It’s that they can’t see the problem.”

I see the truth of this in politicians rushing bills through without first examining what the problem is they want to solve. Have they ever identified in our health care system what actually needs fixing? It seems that they actually ignore those things.

On Education

“Education is the period during which you are being instructed by somebody you do not know, about something you do not want to know.”

“The chief object of education is not to learn things but to unlearn things.”

“The purpose of Compulsory Education is to deprive the common people of their commonsense.”

“When learned men begin to use their reason, then I generally discover that they haven’t got any

“Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously”

“Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.”

Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy means government by the badly educated.”

 

I like the one about “taking educated people seriously” since in politics we have so many “smart, educated people” that we are supposed to take uncritically, even if they are total idiots.

with his dog

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Fables

“Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

“Fable is more historical than fact, because fact tells us about one man and fable tells us about a million men.”

A certain element in our society think that children should no read “Harry Potter” or watch cartoons or other things that are fun bcause it is “not reality.” I agree with Chesterton.

“The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”

“Marriage is an adventure, like going to war.”

“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.”

Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.”

 

Religion

“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.”

“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”

“It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.”

“Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.”

“Never invoke the gods unless you really want them to appear. It annoys them very much.”

I think these religious views punch a hole in some of the sanctimonious extremes one runs across even today.

Literature

“Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity.”

“A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.”

“Journalism is popular, but it is popular mainly as fiction. Life is one world, and life seen in the newspapers is another.”

History

“The disadvantage of men not knowing the past is that they do not know the present. History is a hill or high point of vantage, from which alone men see the town in which they live

Or the age in which they are living.”

“You shouldn’t take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.”

 

Metaphorically the last statement would seem to apply to things like closing Gitmo and other policies rushed into by the administration..

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Comments 28 comments

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

I voted funny for this: "The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese."

I voted useful for this: “You shouldn’t take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.”

And I voted up in general. I enjoyed how you extrapolated some of these quotes and applied them to politics. Funny in a way if it was not also sad. Enough said!

G.K. Chesterton certainly must have been an interesting man!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Peggy W

Thanks for the ratings and comments. Chesterton was always challenging conventional wisdom. I like the way he always found the contradictions in things.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

That he did! Chesterton makes one think about things which was the point of his writings, I am sure.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Peggy W

Thankds for the comment. I do think certain writers such as Chesterton and Lewis Carrol had a certain way they looked at life, it might be a sense of humor.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

I like his point about journalism being fiction. If he felt that way in his day, I wonder what he'd think of the truth-bending, editorialized version of the news we have today.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Being a journalist himself I am sure he would have some ironic remarks about it. Thanks for visiting and commenting.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 5 years ago from Texas, USA

Thanks for this article on G. K. Chesterton, I enjoyed reading it.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Glad you enjoyed it. thank you for commenting


2patricias profile image

2patricias 5 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

I've voted this up, and also beautiful. I am not familiar with the writing of Chesterton, and I can see from this hub that I am missing out.

My favourite quote above is the one about having a solution without identifying the problem. It is so true that to really make something better you have to work out exactly what is wrong with it - and that is easier said than done.

My experience of politicians here is that they all think in the short term (like to the next election) and real life problems are generally long term.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

T^hanks for the vote and the comment.He covered q rqnge of subjects. I was especially interested in his comments on American society. I think he said he stayed at a Biltmore Hotel and wondered if they shouldn't have built less.


Iain 5 years ago

Hey there,

Im really enjoying these quotes, do you know what book the first quote on history comes from?


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for reading and commenting.the reference I found was "on St George Revivified."


sweetie1 profile image

sweetie1 5 years ago from India

Hi he was great poet no doubt. Our English teacher was his fan and would usually narrate couple of his poems every now and then. I didnt know he made quotes too. thanks for sharing


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Chesterton was a journalist,essayist,mystery story writer and,as you note, a poet. He was also something of a Theologian. I think now he is best known as the authro of the Father Brown series of mystery stories.

Thanks for reading this hub and commenting.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

I voted up. Good read.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for the comment.


LighT 4 years ago

what a quotes?? its so interisting..:)


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

LighT Thank you for reading my Chesterton qoutes and commenting.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 4 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

I'll put down useful and also funny this go 'round in looking at this hub. There is a gentle magnetic kind of humor. I agree that if you can joke about your religion then it is good.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks Rod. Chesterton's observations came from the way he looked at life and saw the irony of it.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 15 months ago from Nashville Tn.

I'm so happy to learn about Chesterson. What a remarkable person. His observations give me so much to think about. T

His is a great hub and will share with others.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 15 months ago from sunny Florida

What a gift he had! So many remarks that are indeed memorable. Now i am off to read mire of his woeks.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 15 months ago from Queensland Australia

Great hub Don, I love these quotes and they prove what a wise and insightful man Chesterton was. I enjoy watching the Father Brown tv series as well. The last quote especially stands out "You shouldn’t take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up" as common sense that is often ignored. Oh, now I have to go out of my way to write a poem about "cheese"...damn you. :) Voted up.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 15 months ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Audrey. I am glad I was able to share my interest in Chesterton with you. I always liked the seeming contradictions in life that he found meaningful. Thanks for the share.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 15 months ago from Queensland Australia

I left an in depth comment on this hub earlier but it hasn't shown up Don. Loved this hub, as I do the Father Brown tv series. Very wise quotes from quite an insightful man. Voted up.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 15 months ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Patricia. I hope you enjoy reading Chesterton. I think you will enjoy his writing.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 15 months ago from Queensland Australia

Now my previous comment is there...hmm...guess you get two for the price of one...er...I mean three :)


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 15 months ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Jodah. Both of your comments are here now. If you are a Father Brown fan you might want to look up an old film titled "The detective if you have not already seen it. Alec Guinness plays father Brown and it was my introduction to the Father Brown stories.

I love Chesterton's comments on American and English language--such as why the English say "lift "and Americans say ""elevator"

. There may be some inspiration there.

Thanks for commenting.

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