What's Wrong with the World
The Society of G.K. Chesterton

What’s Wrong with the World?

QUESTION: Is it true that The Times once sent out an inquiry to famous authors, asking the question, “What’s wrong with the world today?” and Chesterton responded simply,

“Dear Sir,

I am.

Yours, G.K. Chesterton.”

ANSWER: This story has been repeated so often about Chesterton that we suspect it is true. Also, it seems it is never told about any one other than Chesterton. What we have not found, however, is any documentary evidence for it. It may indeed be from The Times, as the story is usually told, but no one has taken the trouble to go through the back issues and find a copy of the actual letter. It has also been attributed to other papers, but again, no proof.

It is also entirely possible that it actually happened with another author, but has been attributed to Chesterton because it is typical of both his humility and his wit and because it is associated with the title of a book he wrote in 1910, What’s Wrong with the World.

If anyone out there can provide further information on this one, please let us know.

22 thoughts on “What’s Wrong with the World?”

  1. I READ A LOT FROM GK CHESTERTON (ORTODOXY FATHER BROWN ET ALL) AND I LOVE HIS MODE OF WRITING BUT NOW I HAVE FOUND THAT MARSHALL MCLUHAN READ “WHATS WRONG WITH THE WORLD” AND IT CHANGED HIS LIFE
    SINCE I AM WRITING AN ESSAY ON GKCH I AM INTERESTED IN THE BOOK, WHERE I COULD FIND THE PDF VERSION? IF YOU BE SO KIND.
    THE REFERENCE SAYS GKCH WROTE IN A NON LINEAR MODE BUT ON A ANALOGICAL ONE DO YOU AGREE?
    JORGE GABRRIEL RODRIGUEZ REYES

  2. “In one sense, and that the eternal sense, the thing is plain. The answer to the question , ‘What is Wrong?’ is, or should be, I am wrong.’ Until a man can give that answer his idealism is only a hobby.”

    -GKC, Letter to the “Daily News”, August 16, 1905, “What is Wrong”

  3. In his poem Ultimate, Chesterton writes —

    …………………………
    Man with his own life stands alone.
    ‘I am’ he says his bankrupt creed:
    ‘I am’ and is again a clod:
    The sparrow starts, the grasses stir,
    For he has said the name of God.

    Would Chesterton really have written the name of God as a supposedly clever answer to a dubious question?
    M Moffatt

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