Thursday, January 12, 2006

When did you discover Chesterton?

I read Orthodoxy in college. Didn't get it.
Read it again at about age 35.
Totally loved it, said, about every other line, "Right on, brother, preach it, dude!" (or something like that).
Haven't stopped reading him, don't think I ever will. Even if I ever get to read everything he ever wrote, I could still start over again and it would be fresh the second or third time.

How about you? When did you first read/discover Chesterton?


  1. My wife purchased this issue of Christian History [] b/c she thought I could relate to the 'fat guy' on the cover. She knows me well. In the time since, we've married and had a son, but I've still managed to read Orthodoxy, Everlasting Man & various essays, poems, etc., all of which are easily found online. I'm beginning the biographies of St.Francis and St.Thomas Aquinas this year. It's true that his words are not dated and I can't imagine them ever getting stale.

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  3. I discovered Chesterton when I was at an all-time low, coming off the heels of a bout with agnosticism/atheism. My charismatic/fundamentalist protestant formation left me bound up with legalism and scrupulosity, and with a lack of intellectual formation. By my mid-twenties I was in the throes of agnosticism. At a particularly low point I pick up a copy of Orthodoxy and it changed my world! What insight! What joy! But I couldn't get past "The Ethics of Elfland" and I put the book down. But it induced a reconversion to God and to Christ and put me on a road to full communion with Christ's Church, the Catholic Church. A year or so later I picked up Orthodoxy again and read it cover to cover and hung on every word. In a couple of years I would be working double shifts at work to pay for all the Collected Works.

  4. Around the middle of my sophomore year, I came across a GKC quote on the Internet. I read a few essays, mouth agape at his prose style, his confidence, and his wisdom. I then noticed that the collected works were in my college's library and went on a good old reading binge.

    I put to good use GKC's suspicion that the ever-protean radicalism you find on campus is inspired to keep things from ever changing.

  5. I first came across him in the tenth grade. I was working on a project of some sort on one of the school computers when an inept bout of Google work landed me at I was not particularly intrigued by any of it until I saw on the right-hand side of the screen the little list of headings like "The Poet," and "The Artist." It was "the Murderer" that caught my youthful eye.

    Anyhow, I read some of the poems they had there ("Elegy in a Country Churchyard" being the favourite at the time) and then went back to work. I forgot about him until the second year of University. The only action I took about him in the intervening time was to purchase a collection of Father Brown stories I happened to find at a local bookstore, though I promptly forgot about that too.

    While reading some Lewis in University I came across references to Chesterton and my memory piqued. I returned to the website and looked around. Then I went to Martin Ward's site. Then I went to the library.

    Two months later, having read only Orthodoxy, some of his poetry, and less than half of All is Grist, I wrote in a single night the essay that won the Gilbert and Frances Scholarship, and thereafter began my new life as a Chestertonian. An article about blogs in an issue of Gilbert got me interested in the subject (particularly Chesterton and Friends, which was mentioned in the article and to which I am proud to say I am now a contributor), and I began one of my own.

    And here we are.

    Good question!

  6. When I was about 4 or 5, and my father recited those amazing words which still produce a spine-tingling and a mystical echo of a memory of a room full of books:

    "Dim drums throbbing in the hills half heard,
    Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has heard..."

    True, there were other, more recent encounters, but this was the beginning for me.

    Thanks Dad! Thanks Mom!

    Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

  7. I was a senior in high school, and I read a World Magazine article about this guy who was a "funnier C. S. Lewis." At about the same time, I read Lewis' Surprised by Joy, and it mentioned Chesterton's The Eternal Man as crucial in forcing Lewis to recognize God's existence.

    He's now my favorite author. The type of favorite author where if any of my friends see something about me, their first thought is to tell me.

    There's just something inexplicably moving about Chesterton's writings -- a glory and joy and childlikeness that clearly springs from the darkness of doubts and introspection, but springs always into the light of God's reality.

    He wrote pages against intellectuals, but when I began to figure out my opinions on literary criticism, I found it was Chesterton more than even Lewis who had formed my opinions.

  8. So you're a scholarship winner, eh Furor? Congrats! You belong to an elite group of only four people. Which essay was yours?

    In ten or so years, the magazine ought to do a "where are they now?" feature on the scholarship winners, to see to what good use they put the very generous winnings.

    Dr. Thursday, I know what you mean. I cannot recite those staves outloud without getting all choked up.

  9. I discovered Father Brown in high school and didn't read much more until ten or fifteen years later. The funny thing is that I bought one of the Father Brown books on audio from Ignatius Press (clearance rack) a long while back and happened to put it on for myself, but my daughter (who was only nine or ten at the time) heard just a little and was completely hooked. Early last year, a similar thing happened. I was reading the Ballad of the White Horse to myself, but it really begs to be read aloud. I read little snippets aloud to the kids - just had to share pieces - and the same daughter was entranced (she's currently working on memorizing it - I think she has about 30 stanzas so far).

  10. I discovered him just a couple of years ago. I'm a John Dickson Carr fan, and was browsing a biography on JDC that mentioned G.K.'s influence.


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