Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Renaissance Man

Chesterton's contemporary, the English poet Alfred Noyes, reminisced in his autobiography about his 1902 weekends at R.C. Lehmann's home. There he remembered meeting G.K. Chesterton, who was standing in the library quoting William Morris. Later, at lunch, Chesterton "suddenly produced from his pocket and arranged on the table before him a number of little brass figures, Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Micawber, Sam Weller, and other characters from Dickens, giving one an almost uncanny sense that Gulliver held them alive in his hands." [Two Worlds for Memory, New York: Lippincott, 1953, pp. 27-28]

Thing about GKC is, he seemed to have a talent for a lot of "little" things: conversation, drawing, tomfoolery, playing with children, whatever. He's kind of the anti-Da Vinci. Whereas Da Vinci was a proud man who excelled in many major arts to support his lavish lifestyle, GKC was a humble man who excelled in many minor ones. I suspect he could've excelled in major ones, if he cared to try, but instead, he just worked at his writing so he could support his wife and simple lifestyle.

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