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Alarms and Discursions

G. K. Chesterton

Book Overview: 

Gilbert Keith Chesterton was an influential English writer of the early 20th century. His prolific and diverse output included journalism, philosophy, poetry, biography, Christian apologetics, fantasy, and detective fiction. Chesterton has been called the “prince of paradox.” He wrote in an off-hand, whimsical prose studded with startling formulations. Chesterton wrote about 4000 essays on various subjects, and “Ararms and Discursions is one of his collections.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .; she is not in the least a contemptible nor entirely a comic figure. She has a powerful stoop and an ugly, attractive face, a little like that of Huxley—without the whiskers, of course. The courage with which she supports the most brutal bad luck has something quite creepy about it. Her irony is incessant and inventive; her practical charity very large; and she is wholly unaware of the philosophical use to which I put her.

But when I hear the modern generalization about her sex on all sides I simply substitute her name, and see how the thing sounds then. When on the one side the mere sentimentalist says, "Let woman be content to be dainty and exquisite, a protected piece of social art and domestic ornament," then I merely repeat it to myself in the "other form," "Let Mrs. Buttons be content to be dainty and exquisite, a protected piece of social art, etc." It is extraordinary what a difference the substitution seems to make. And on the other hand, when s. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Fantastic. Some of my favorite Chesterton lines are found in here.


While some of the book inevitably feels out of date, due only to the fact that the particular squabbles of today aren't the squabbles of yesterday, what's more incredible is just how on point the majority of it is.

"The Man And His Newspaper" could have been penned about Fox News, and The Flat Freak

At times Chesterton's prose was a bit too archaic for me, but this was a book worth reading anyway. If you're interested in the essay as a form (like I am), this should be part of your canon. And I just loved Chesterton's snarky comments about professors and academia in general!

Listened to it in snippets on drives as an audiobook, which I think its well suited for, being that it is primarily a collection of observations and considerations of what Chesterton sees in his life around him. This approach doesn't reduce his writing quality, and you'll get some interesting though

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