Monday, September 24, 2007

Michael Crichton on GKC

The top book (of GKC's) is the one I'm reading now.


  1. How did Chesterton "lose" the debate to Russell, Shaw, and Wells? In the short run, Chesterton tended to come out on top in the debates. In the medium run, the eugenicists got what they wanted. In the long run, Chesterton was validated and the eugenicists discredited.

  2. Yes, Chesterton the 'reactionary' did win in the end, so much so that the 'progressive' left, the mainstay of support for eugenics in its heyday, now does its best to deny that it ever supported eugenics, much less that it once treated that support with precisely the same sort of pride they now apply to its support for legalized abortion. You can find original source documents detailing that support in The Pivot of Civilization in Historical Perspective.

    By the way, the particular edition that Michael Crichton commends with his remarks about "the editor of this edition" is the Inkling Books edition edited by myself. I just signed a contract with an Italian Catholic publisher, Edizioni Cantagalli in Siena, for an Italian translation of that edition. The translation has already been made, so the book should be out in a matter of weeks.

    For those who've not checked the new books at the American Chesterton Society website, they now have copies of Cecil Chesterton's 1908 biography of his brother in a new and expanded edition with my footnotes and appendices containing the text of Chesterton's famous 1908 debate over socialism with Wells and Shaw. It includes a Foreword by Aidan Mackey and perhaps the most marvelous Chesterton description ever penned--that by his Daily News editor, A. G. Gardiner. Don't let Cecil's title, G.K. Chesterton: A Criticism, bother you. It's not a criticism in the sense of "all the bad things I know about my brother." It's criticism in the literary sense, meaning of an evaluation of his writings. Editing it, I gained new insight into what made Chesterton 'tick.'

    Coming out soon, perhaps late October or early November, is the perfect Christmas present for Chesterton fans--Chesterton on War, a carefully chosen, 400+ page selection of his best Illustrated London News articles on war in general (its causes and prevention) and in particular the threat that Germany posed to European peace. During WWI he warned that if something was not done about Germany, within thirty years there would be another war that would make the first look like nothing. In 1932 he predicted that Europe's next war would break out over a border dispute between Germany and Poland, precisely what happened seven years later. You should be able to get it soon through the American Chesterton Society.

    Though Chesterton made fun of those who claimed to know the future, believing strongly that we have it in us to shape our future for good or ill, Chesterton has certainly proved a far better prophet than Wells or Shaw.

    --Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books, Seattle

  3. Dear Mr. Perry,
    I'm very glad that you posted on this blog! I want to thank you for Inkling Books, especially your editions of "The Pivot of Civilization in Historical Perspective," "Eugenics and Other Evils," and your book on Victoria Woodhull. A year and a half ago these books really helped me out a lot when I was working on my Masters' Thesis on Catholic resistance to the eugenics movement in Milwaukee, with a particular focus on the protests against a speech Margaret Sanger gave. (Which, due to a nasty trick, was originally set at one of the archdiocese's auditoriums! The Archdiocese had no idea that Sanger was scheduled to speak until later, at which point they promptly banned her from Church property and the press started to vilify the Church as opponents of free speech and liberty.) The pro-eugenics bent of all of the city's newspapers (except the Catholic papers) is shocking. Thanks again for making these books and primary sources available!

    Chris Chan


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