Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bookmarks – Tremendous Trifles

One of the first books I’ve read since getting a Nook has been this delightful collection of essays by G.K. Chesterton.
I am not sure these are the kind of essays I should have students read as examples of good writing because Chesterton often starts with one subject and associates it with another, and yet he is so masterful at this, that I sit reading in awe. He seems to be writing off the cuff, but the connections are often deep and profound. They clearly come from a deep well of reading and rumination.
Chesterton has a wonderfully warm sense of humor, but I fear that many readers won’t get all the jokes, particularly since some of them seem to require a knowledge of Art, Literature, and Philosophy, as well as what were current events in England during the author’s life. But readers shouldn’t be lost through most of the book, and Chesterton’s references rarely get in the way of the main ideas. His defense of Christianity is more subtle than his contemporaries, and that may be why it is appealing. He can be direct without banging one with a frying pan.
Chesterton is better known for his Father Brown stories, but as a journalist, he also excelled. These 39 witty gems serve as fine examples. “The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder,” he wrote. This little book brings back for me the sense of awe and wonder in creation at the same time it reasons with (and against) some of the best minds of Chesterton’s day. Don’t take that to mean he is dated. His thoughts stand up with anything the so-called modern world dishes out.

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