Thursday, July 03, 2008

GKC ITN: Romance, Procession, and Travel

G.K. Chesterton in the (recent) news:

Marc T. Newman in Exile Street:
WALL-E is mystified and alarmed. He calls out to her, but she is unable to answer. Not knowing what is wrong, not able to “fix” her, WALL-E does the one thing that separates the true lover from the sap. G.K. Chesterton, in Orthodoxy, noted that he was unimpressed with the romantic poets of his day. Sure, they would laugh and sigh and weep for love. They struck all the right poses. But Chesterton knew it for a sham, because there was one thing that these young fops would not do for love: sacrifice.

in the Ulster Herald:

Frank [McCrory] told Ben that he had better get along to the main processional area where his literary idol, the novelist, poet and essayist, G K Chesterton, was about to speak. Ben did so, and was later to recall the distinguished English writer carrying a pole supporting the canopy over a monstrance, with all 'the gravity of an Irish publican'. Frank McCrory was more a man for H G Wells and Bernard Shaw, but you couldn't say too much about that as a postal official in a small Irish town in the 1930s.

Chesterton was the most distinguished Catholic intellectual in the English-speaking world at the time, although a little past the peak of his creative powers.

Nick Hewer in the U.K Telegraph:

As a child I was told that G.K. believed that it is always better to travel than to arrive and he used to practise this belief by waking up his household very early in the morning, urging everybody to raise themselves quickly.

“We’ll miss the train,” he would bellow. Chaos, which he craved, would ensue: maids scurried about, gathering clothes, the housekeeper and cook would be in a state looking for anything that would make up a packed lunch, cabin trunks came crashing down from the attic to be dusted off, and packing would start, hasty notes scribbled to cancel long standing arrangements, cabs and carts would be called, children screamed and got under everyone’s feet, his poor wife would rush here and there, not knowing what to do for the best, and they would all set off for Waterloo, G.K. urging the cabbie to drive the horses harder, and, finally, they would screech to a halt at the station forecourt, all in a lather.

“Marvellous,” G.K. would declare, and the whole ensemble would quietly trot back home.

[an urban legend? the children under foot makes it sounds like one.]


Nick Milne said...

I'm inclined to think that last one's a fanciful legend, too. It strains credulity to assert that Gilbert would ever care in the slightest that he was about to be late for a train, or that being on time for a train was even something that could happen except by some sort of happy accident.

Anonymous said...

I'm rather sure the story is legendary - consider, for instance the unlikelihood of his wife Frances (highly practical by all accounts) being rendered ineffectual.
Most important, however: whose children? Gilbert and Frances sorrowed that they were unable to have children!!

Yet, the IDEA of setting out, at once - and in despite of difficulties - on an adventure (GKC definition: "An inconvenience considered in the right spirit") IS truly Chestertonian. What he would not approve is the foisting of inconvenience upon others purely for his amusement.
Perhaps the story was originally meant either to illustrate or to satirize that idea?

Yours in Christ, Rex Kochanski