I don't subscribe to The New Yorker. Its bigoted secularism is too much, but it has some fine writing, so I read it when a friend of mine gives me his past issues. I just got the November 21, 2005 issue, in which Adam Gopnik gives C.S. Lewis a rather ungenerous and slashing treatment. If you want to read it, go here: Link. I'm more interested, however, in the following statement from the beginning:
Praise a good writer too single-mindedly for too obviously ideological reasons for too long, and pretty soon you have him all to yourself. The same thing has happened to G. K. Chesterton: the enthusiasts are so busy chortling and snickering as their man throws another right hook at the rationalist that they don’t notice that the rationalist isn’t actually down on the canvas; he and his friends have long since left the building.
I'm not sure I fully understand the passage. Gopnik appears to be saying that people don't listen to GKC's defenders anymore because they unequivocally cheer for the man. It's an odd assessment. GKC defenders cheer for him (i) because he deserves it, and (ii) practically no one cheered for him for nearly fifty years after his death. The great man nearly fell off the literary map. I'm glad to see that Gopnik thinks the Chestertonians have made a big enough impact to push GKC from the forgotten, through the spotlight, to irrelevancy, but Gopnik is the first person I've ever heard make that complaint.
4 days ago