Why the Interest in G.K. Chesterton?
The American Chesterton Society works tirelessly to promote the writings and thought of G.K. Chesterton, one of the 20th century’s greatest writers. A convert to the Catholic Church, Chesterton wrote nearly a hundred books during his lifetime, and literally thousands of essays, in newspapers and magazines.
For newcomers to this website and to G.K. Chesterton, what is all the fuss about?
All the issues we struggle with in the 21st century, Chesterton foresaw, and wrote about, in the early 20th century. Social injustice, the culture of death, statism, assaults on religion, and attacks on the family and on the dignity of the human person: Chesterton saw where these trends, already active in his time, would lead us. He was a witty, intelligent, and insightful defender of the poor, the downtrodden, the weak, and especially of the family. He loved good beer, good wine, and good cigars. He wrote in just about every genre: history, biography, novels, poetry, short stories, apologetics and theology, economic works, and more.
As a literary critic, Chesterton was without parallel. His biography of Charles Dickens is credited with sparking the Dickens revival in London in the early 20th century. His biography of St. Thomas Aquinas was called the best book on St. Thomas ever written, by no less than Etienne Gilson, the 20th century’s greatest Thomistic scholar. His books Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man are considered the 20th century’s finest works of Christian and Catholic apologetics. And audiences still delight in the adventures of Chesterton’s priest sleuth, Father Brown, as well as such timeless novels as The Man Who Was Thursday, The Napoleon of Notting Hill, and others.
Despite his huge book output, Chesterton considered himself to be primarily a journalist. During his lifetime, he published literally thousands of essays in newspapers and journals on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Illustrated London News, the Daily News, his own newspaper, G.K’s Weekly, and the New York American. These essays are as fresh, invigorating, and relevant today as when they were first published.
Through lectures, research, an annual conference, a TV series on EWTN, and of course Gilbert, the American Chesterton Society works to promote Chesterton scholarship and to introduce Chesterton to people across the country and around the world. Recent projects include film adaptations of the Father Brown mystery “The Honor of Israel Gow,” a movie adaptation of Chesterton’s novel Manalive, and, in cooperation with the Chesterton Society in England, research into Chesterton’s sanctity with the goal of opening his Cause for sainthood. Yes, sainthood. Nearly three hundred converts to the Catholic Church (and counting!) credit their conversions to reading G.K. Chesterton.
For more information on G.K. Chesterton’s life and work, read Who is this guy and why haven’t I heard of him?, by Dale Ahlquist.