Friday, August 11, 2006

I (GKC posting today) was tagged for a meme

The other day, someone tagged me in a blogging game about books. I love games, so here are my answers.

 1. One book that changed your life.

I began by being what the pessimists called an optimist; I have ended by being what the optimists would very probably call a pessimist. And I have never in fact been either, and I have never really changed at all. I began by defending vermilion pillar-boxes and Victorian omnibuses although they were ugly. I have ended by denouncing modern advertisements or American films even when they are beautiful. The thing that I was trying to say then is the same thing that I am trying to say now; and even the deepest revolution of religion has only confirmed me in the desire to say it. For indeed, I never saw the two sides of this single truth stated together anywhere, until I happened to open the Penny Catechism and read the words, "The two sins against Hope are presumption and despair."

[Autobio CW16:320-1]

2. One book that you’ve read more than once.

Since I wrote recently of "The Open Conspiracy," the last book by Mr. H. G. Wells, I have read it again with closer interest and attention; for, indeed, my first criticism concerned only one small point. The book itself deserves the most considerate criticism, and yet it is not easy to criticise.

[ILN June 16, 1928 CW34:540]

3. One book you’d want on a desert island.

[GKC was] Asked once the traditional question what single book he would choose if cast on a desert island,
he replied Thomas's Guide to Practical Shipbuilding.

[GKC 204]

4. One book that made you laugh.

I solemnly assure the reader that I have read whole books about education written by intellectual people with great ingenuity; and I can only describe the effect on my mind by some kind of wild parallel. It felt as if I were reading a book called "How to Breed Horses," and it was all written like this: "Many people can enjoy the sweet voices of the horses singing at daybreak who nevertheless know little of the way they build their nests; and who (when they have tamed them) will often neglect to clean out their cages and be content merely with occasionally smoothing their feathers."

[ILN May 30, 1908 CW28:111-112]

5. One book that made you cry.

Now I opened the other day a book which I believe to deserve the praises it has received; a book somewhat in the manner of "Lux Mundi," written by a group of the younger academic writers, some of whom I have met and all of whom I admire. Yet here again my tragic fate pursued me. I opened on the very first sentence of the introduction, which began something like this: "To-day the world is asking questions": and I stopped dead. The
world has always been asking questions; and the only difference between us and our more orthodox ancestors is that they occasionally got some answers. However, I went on to the next clause.

The writer then said, I think: "Christianity arose in a world very different from that in which we live." That is true enough; and I felt encouraged. I hoped I had cleared the first fence for the first time; and perhaps I might be able to read a whole book properly after all. I went on to find out what, in the author's opinion, were the great differences between living under Augustus Caesar and living under George V. And the sentence began something like: "For them the stars circled round a stationary earth and --- " Then did I cast the book to the vultures and the jackals and the eagles of my garden; then did I beat my bosom and wail aloud, so that the clamour of my weeping was heard from the Chilterns to the Thames.

[ILN Nov 1, 1913 CW29:577]

6. One book that you wish had been written.

Of one thing I am quite absolutely convinced, that the very idlest kind of holiday is the very best. By being idle you are mixing with the inmost life of the place where you are; by doing nothing you are doing everything. The local atmosphere finds you unresisting and fills you, while all the others have filled themselves with the stuff of guide-books and the cheerless east wind of culture. Above all, refuse - refuse with passion - to see any places of interest. If you violently decline to see the Castle of Edinburgh, you will have your reward, a delight reserved for the very few: you will see Edinburgh. If you deny the very existence of the Morgue, the Madeleine, and the Louvre, the Luxembourg, the Tuileries, the Eiffel Tower, and the tomb of Napoleon, in the calm of that sacred clearance you will suddenly see Paris. In the name of everything that is sacred, this is not what people call paradox; it is a fragment from a sensible guidebook that has never been written.

[ILN Oct 14, 1905 CW27:36]

7. One book that you wish had never been written.

My own poems.

[GKC at the Catholic Poetry Society meeting] said rather grumpily: "Haven't got my poetry with me - anyone got a copy?" There was dead silence (I felt sorry for our hostess). Then someone had sufficient courage to
say: "Will you please recite 'The Donkey'?" "Don't know it", he replied.
Then Alfred Noyes stood up and said: "I do. May I recite it?" And he did so admirably.
Then Chesterton said: "Anyone got Belloc's poems?" And someone had.
"Ah, that's real poetry," said Chesterton, happy and gratified - and then proceeded to read some of the poems.

[RTC 147]

8. One book you’re currently reading.

"Whatever I find near me."

Gilbert is remembered by many, standing at the Marylebone bookstall reading detective stories and missing trains. Suddenly waking up, he would stuff a book or two into his pocket and stroll towards the train without paying for the books. A bill would later be posted to Frances. [RTC 143]

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read.

I confess there is more than one of Mr. Wells's recent novels that I have both read and not read. I am never quite sure that I have read all Shakespeare or all Boswell's Johnson; because I have so long had the habit of opening them anywhere.

[ILN July 15, 1922 CW32:408

10. Tag five people:

G. B. Shaw, H. G. Wells, E. C. Bentley, H. Belloc, and my dear wife Frances.


  1. *snicker* Clever. (heh!)

  2. Ok, G.K. played the game, now how about Nancy Brown (and don't tag me because I've already done it).

  3. This Chesterton fellow shows promise. I hope he writes more.

  4. Hey, Nancy,

    Where do I go to complain that (SOB, WHINE, SNIFFLE), while people all over the internet have received the latest Gilbert, I have not. It's been 10 DAYS since people started talking about it, but mine has yet to arrive. I know the mail is awful, but are they sending stuff out to Vermont really late in addition???

    And to top it off the ACS blog has been very, very quiet lately. We miss your insight.

  5. Hey, It finally arrived today. It looks really good. I haven't had more than a chance to glance at it, but the Wallace and Grommet review looked pretty cool. Now I've got a hankering to watch the movie again. Guess I'll have to put that on the agenda for later.

  6. Hey, Nancy, I guess I've got to send a reader letter to Gilbert. My husband found a mistake in the editorial. The UCC actually voted to retain the terminology of Jesus as Lord. In the editorial they said that it declined to do so. I guess somebody got bogged down reading all the resolutions and arguments and didn't see the final version. Since my husband is still UCC it was sort of important to him.

    Other than that the issue looks great. Too bad you couldn't find Claire. Maybe some reader will have more info for you.


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