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G. K. Chesterton, A Critical Study

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Obscure criticism

  • Jul 2, 2013
From here in my head, at this point in history and in comparison to the dim level of literary intelligence extant today, it seems hard to countenance or sustain a valid critique of Chesterton.  Apparently in 1916 such was not the case, as West tears into a sometimes near-rant of criticism of Chesterton.  Truth be told when his criticism is at his best is when he reads the most like the man he criticizes.

He is most critical of Chesterton for his humor and his Christianity, perhaps most especially when one is used in service of the other.  Yet he does concede that Chesterton is right when he says that the opposite of funny is not unfunny; "A man may be perfectly serious in a funny way," says West, in perhaps the most powerful praise one could offer up to Chesterton.

In perhaps his most interesting criticism of Chesterton West says that Chesterton fails to distinguish the difference between a Christian and a Crusader.  "The [Christian] attempts to show his love to his enemy by abolishing his unchrstianness, the [Crusader] by abolishing him altogether." Perhaps in the Christian culture of his day Chesterton seemed heavy handed in his defense of Christianity; today as Christianity fights to stay relevant or even engaged in the culture, he sound like a welcome voice of victorious strength.

Much of the rest of West's criticism centers on small sidebars of Chesterton's writing that are no longer particularly relevant or even read today, which perhaps proves the truth of West's critique but also the danger of offering it so soon.  History has voted.  Chesterton (most of him, anyway) remains read and relevant; West remains a footnote.

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July 03, 2013
Chesterton, if in a kindly mood, might say of West's production something on the order of, "If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing BADLY!" Thanks for reviewing. QigongBear/Patrick K
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