The Sins of G. K. Chesterton

The title of this book is a surprise. Chesterton’s admirers have regarded him as a saintly figure; indeed he has been proposed for canonisation. Even those, like Bernard Shaw and H G Wells, who engaged in fierce argument with him regarded him with affection. He was a master of paradox whose sincerity was nevertheless rarely questioned. Orwell’s complaint that everything Chesterton wrote was intended to demonstrate the superiority of the Catholic Church was nonsense, and not only because he didn’t convert until 1922, when he was forty-eight, by which time he had, as Richard Ingrams observes, written his best books. It would be truer, though still an exaggeration, to say that everything he wrote was intended to demonstrate the good sense of the ordinary man. He might well, like a certain Tory politician today, have said we have had enough of experts.

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