Higgins on Chesterton
Matthew Boudway April 18, 2013 - 12:03pm
Now up on the homepage is Michael Higgins's "Larger than Legend: Saving Chesterton from the Chestertonians," which laments the simplification of GKC's thought by some of his most ardent admirers. He was called the Prince of Paradox for a reason. Or rather, for a couple of reasons. For Chesterton, the paradox wasn't just a rhetorical device (though of course it was that tooand that too often in some of his later work). He was a paradoxical thinker. Higgins writes:
[Chesterton's] biographies of Blake, Dickens, Robert Browning, and others amply demonstrate his ability to weave a big tapestryof work, life, and legacythat introduces us afresh to figures we thought we already knew. But Chestertons true mtier, his genius really, was to probe, prod, and prognosticate. His analysis of the unchecked damage inflicted by market capitalism and Socialist statism looks impressively prophetic after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 and the global economic collapse that continues to afflict us. In The Well and the Shallows Chesterton makes clear the reasons for his detestation of capitalism: it undermines the family unit, corrupts domestic values, corrodes morality, usurps the right order of relationships by making the employer more important than the parent, and encourages "for commercial reasons, a parade of publicity and garish novelty, which is in its nature the death of all that was called dignity and modesty by our mothers and fathers."
About the Author
Matthew Boudway is an associate editor of Commonweal.