Inkling Books is named after the Inklings, a group of writers who met in Oxford, England from the mid-1930s until the late 1940s. They included C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, two writers who remain well-known today, particularly though their recent blockbuster movies. The name Inkling, Tolkien said, was "a pleasantly ingenious pun in its way, suggesting people with vague or half-formed intimations and ideas plus those who dabble in ink."
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Quotations from our latest book: Chesterton on War and Peace
To give you a taste of the book's marvelous contents, a 21-page collection of Chesterton quotes titled OnWar-Quotes can be downloaded below. These quotes are not copyrighted. You can print out as many copies of this document as you like and give copies of this file to as many people as you want.
You can get a copy of the book itself from the American Chesterton Society. The book is described in more detail below.
Chesterton on War and Peace
Indeed I was a warm admirer of Gilbert Chesterton.… When Hitlerism came, he was one of the first to speak out with all the directness and frankness of a great and unabashed spirit. Blessings to his memory.—Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, American Jewish Leader, 1937.
In 1933 the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Norman Angell for his key role in founding modern pacifism. It was perhaps the greatest blunder in the history of the Nobel Prize. The award should have gone to the author of this book. Few writers have proven as tragically wrong as Angell.
Just before the Great War, he assured admirers that Germany posed no threat to peace. Two decades later and after Hitler took power in Germany, he remained smugly confident: “No one pretends now—as the papers above quoted used to pretend—that war was due to the special wickedness of Germans, the sudden swoop of the satanic wolf in a peaceful world lusting to eat such harmless lambs as France and Russia.” This blindness to evil, Chesterton warned, is why “Pacifism and Prussianism [Militarism] are always in alliance, by a fatal logic far beyond any conscious conspiracy.”
Six years later that “satanic wolf” would plunge Europe into the bloodiest war in human history, a war that began—precisely as Chesterton predicted in 1932—over a border dispute with Poland. Even the horrors of the Second World War were foreseen by Chesterton, who warned in September 1917 that, if Germany was not forced to change, “Wars more and more horrible” would follow.
Pacifists were not the only targets of Chesterton’s pen. He directed fierce broadsides at all those who, by word or deed, make peace less likely and war more terrible. On these pages you’ll discover startling insights into the minds of militarists, internationalists, racial supremacists, and all those who grow weary as a war grows long. Remarkably similar personalities and arguments remain with us in today’s debates about war and peace.
Unfortunately, this book, which might have altered the course of history, did not exist in 1933. It’s a recently completed collection of 111 articles that Chesterton wrote for the Illustrated London News between 1905 and 1922. In those articles, written some two decades before the Second World War, Chesterton explained in practical terms how the next war could be avoided. He was a true pacifist, seeking genuine peace without sacrificing human dignity and freedom.
Finally, while Hitler was still an unknown soldier, he blasted as foul and absurd then fashionable racist ideas that Nazism would later exploit. It is no exaggeration to call him Hitler’s first foe.
Contents of Chesterton on War and Peace
1 Battling Illusions, 1905–1913A Time of Illusion—Editor
A Warning Sign, October 7, 1905
Scientific Barbarism, August 4, 1906
Militarism and Boys, October 6, 1906
Hating Nations Intelligently, October 20, 1906
Koepenick’s Comic Captain, October 27, 1906
Chesterton’s New Masthead, January 5, 1907
International or Cosmopolitan, June 22, 1907
Weakest Link, July 20, 1907
Giving Up War, April 25, 1908
The Importance of Why, August 15, 1908
Humanitarian Hate, September 19, 1908
A War of Men Not Ships, March 27, 1909
Journalistic Fear Mongering January 8, 1910
Race and Politics April 30, 1910
Cultivating His Garden September 17, 1910
Wars Out of Love December 31, 1910
More Sacred than Nations January 14, 1911
Excuses with Distant Parallels October 21, 1911
Doubting Informants November 18, 1911
Observing the Military September 14, 1912
Liberalism’s Lost Courage June 21, 1913
Militarism and Children July 26, 1913
Prussian Kings December 13, 1913
2 Battling Racism 1914Racial Nonsense—Editor
Prussian Pride August 22, 1914
Harnack’s Racial Nonsense September 5, 1914
Casting Out Devils September 12, 1914
Responsibility for War September 26, 1914
Blaming Serbia October 10, 1914
Pacifism’s Dead Words October 17, 1914
War, Noble but Unnatural November 21, 1914
3 Battling Pacifism 1915Chesterton’s Pen—Editor
Seizing the Pen May 22, 1915
Free and Separate May 29, 1915
Spoiled by Words June 5, 1915
Conscription Debated June 12, 1915
Casting Down Idols June 19, 1915
Pacifism and Treason July 3, 1915
Honour and Modesty in War July 24, 1915
A World of Pigmies August 7, 1915
Pacifist Incompetence August 14, 1915
Edith Cavell October 30, 1915
Henry Ford’s Pacifism December 11, 1915
4 Battling Militarism 1916Ernst Haeckel—Editor
Crimes Unpunished January 1, 1916
Inside the German Mind January 15, 1916
Why War? January 29, 1916
Pride as Sin February 26, 1916
Zeppelins and the Press March 18, 1916
War Between Races April 8, 1916
Polish Patriotism May 20, 1916
Germany’s Inhumane Hope June 24, 1916
Germany as God August 19, 1916
Cowardice and Revenge September 2, 1916
Averting the Peril September 16, 1916
Defective National Feeling October 7, 1916
Lawlessness as Law October 28, 1916
Chivalry in War November 11, 1916
War’s Big Picture December 16, 1916
5 Battling Teutonism 1917Henry Cabot Lodge—Editor
Milk and Water Pacifism January 27, 1917
Peace Without Victory February 3, 1917
America Enters the War April 14, 1917
Great German Heresy April 21, 1917
Pacifist Nightmares June 2, 1917
Germans Without Flaws July 14, 1917
War Weariness August 25, 1917
Lordly Peace-Mongers September 1, 1917
Peace that Will End Peace September 8, 1917
Wars More Horrible September 29, 1917
Praise with Faint Damns October 13, 1917
Playing the Race Card October 20, 1917
Germany’s Horrible Holiday October 27, 1917
Discrediting Despotism November 10, 1917
Whitewashing Barbarians December 15, 1917
6 Battling Defeatism 1918Courage in Decline—Editor
A Peace Too Soon January 12, 1918
Pacifist Illogic January 19, 1918
Pacifist Weakness January 26, 1918
Pacifist Defeat April 6, 1918
Pacifist Prigs May 11, 1918
Two Different Leagues July 13, 1918
Bloodless Pacifism August 3, 1918
A League to Defend Nations August 10, 1918
America Free to Strike September 7, 1918
Refreshed by Invasion September 21, 1918
Cursing Germany September 28, 1918
Nations as Ideals October 5, 1918
Germany’s Illusion November 2, 1918
Looking Back November 23, 1918
Victory Will Efface All December 7, 1918
Denying Racial Equality December 21, 1918
Christmas versus Yule December 28, 1918
7 Battling Internationalism 1919–1922Grand Schemes—Editor
Nations Are Unique January 4, 1919
Polish Nationalism January 11, 1919
Poland and Peace-mongers January 18, 1919
Protecting Small Nations February 15, 1919
Polish Precipice April 5, 1919
Christianity and War April 12, 1919
Equity for Victims May 10, 1919
Unrepentant Germany May 24, 1919
Criminal Germany May 31, 1919
Barbaric Germany June 14, 1919
Civilization Leads June 21, 1919
False Teutonic History June 28, 1919
Hindenberg and German Guilt July 19, 1919
Cannibal Theory July 26, 1919
Ludendorff’s Francs-tireurs September 13, 1919
Civilisation as a Choice July 10, 1920
War to End All Pacifisms July 31, 1920
H. G. Wells and Nationalism June 4, 1921
Armament Debates November 26, 1921
Agreeing to War December 3, 1921
A Boy’s Bow January 7, 1922
Weary of War May 6, 1922
Imperialistic Internationalism June 17, 1922
King Arthur’s Legacy December 16, 1922
A. Is It Always a Sin to Go to War?—Thomas Aquinas, 1265–1274
B. The Balkan Situation—Winston Churchill, 1912
C. The Great Illusion—Norman Angell, 1913
D. Common Sense about the War—Bernard Shaw, 1914
E. The Ethics of War—Bertrand Russell, 1915
F. Soul-Force and Tapasya—Mahatma Gandhi, 1917
G. In the Fourth Year—H. G. Wells, 1918
Foreword to Chesterton on War and Peace
My initial plan for this book was to include between two covers virtually everything Chesterton wrote about war before 1923. That soon proved impractical, if not impossible. Chesterton was a prolific writer and during the First World War he focused his enormous energy on writing about the fighting from almost every angle. A draft of this book was approaching a thousand pages, without many clarifying notes, when good sense dictated I narrow the focus.
Once that decision was made, the next step was obvious. I would pick the best of the best. This book is built around a careful selection from the articles Chesterton wrote for “Our Note-Book,” his weekly column in the Illustrated London News. Before radio and television, the Illustrated London News was highly influential, reaching a large audience throughout Britain, across Europe, and in the United States. The articles you see here were chosen for their historical importance and their lasting relevance to today’s debates about war and peace. That’s precisely how Chesterton intended for them to be taken. In his first article after the war, Chesterton told his readers what his guiding principle had been during the war.
"I have my own opinions about those internal political quarrels, but I have deliberately kept them out of the notes it has been my business to jot down on this page for the last four years. Though the form of them has been in the crudest sense journalistic, I have tried to keep the philosophy of them in some sense historic. I have tried to think of the great war as it would have appeared to our remote ancestors if they had known it was coming, as it will appear to our remote descendants when they consider how it came."
As I edited, I kept a key principle in mind—to allow Chesterton to speak as clearly to this generation as he did to his own. That’s the reason for the chapter introductions and the many footnotes. Chesterton was writing at a particular moment in history—that’s what he meant by “in the crudest sense journalistic.” When he mentions people, places and events, he typically alludes to them, knowing his contemporaries had read about them in newspapers, or that they were common knowledge among the well-informed. Through these notes, you’ll learn what his readers knew.
There’s another reason why these articles matter. Chesterton was present at the birth of the modern age. Many issues we debate today had their coming out party in London during the first two decades of the twentieth century. Just before the war, disarmament, internationalism and pacifism were being offered as enlightened solutions to the problem of war. Chesterton’s experience with those ideas could not have been better. Many were championed by people who were his friends, including H. G. Wells and Bernard Shaw. Almost all came from people he personally knew. Most important of all, when he debated those ideas with his usual good sense, humor and eloquence, they were as fresh as a morning breeze. Today, when many of those debates have grown stale and predictable, it helps to visit that earlier debate and recapture some of its excitement and vividness.
With only a few breaks for health or travel, Chesterton wrote for the Illustrated London News from 1905 to 1936—an incredible 31 years. When the war began in August 1914, he had been writing his column for almost nine years. He would continue to write for it until his death on June 14, 1936, with his last article appearing on the following Saturday, June 20.
Chesterton’s first article, published on September 30, 1905, was a light-hearted look at a time (still with us) in late summer when the government takes a holiday and so little seems to happen that reporters become desperate for stories. Using the paradoxical style for which he was famous, Chesterton flipped the issue around.
"I cannot imagine why this season of the year is called by journalists the Silly Season: it is the only season in which men have time for wisdom. This can be seen even by glancing at those remarkable documents, the daily papers. As long as Parliament is sitting, the most minute and fugitive things are made to seem important. We have enormous headlines about the vote on a coastguard’s supply of cats’ meat, or a scene in the House over the perquisites of the butler of the Consul at Port Said. Trivialities, in a word, are made to seem tremendous, until the Silly Season, or the season of wisdom, begins. Then, for the first time, we have a moment to think.… We begin to discuss “The Decay of Home Life,” or “What is Wrong?” or the authority of the Scriptures, or “Do We Believe?” These really awful and eternal problems are never discussed except in the Silly Season.… Yes; it is only during this fleeting time that we can really think of the things that are not fleeting. The time of our holidays is the only time in which we can really manage to turn our minds to these grave and everlasting riddles that abide behind every civilisation.… The Silly Season is the only time when we are not silly."
Chesterton’s first war article appeared two weeks later, when he spoke against the “scientific” nonsense that Europe had outgrown war. It was vintage Chesterton, bucking fashionable opinion in a way that would later be proved right. He believed complexities such as war are often best seen as paradoxes. On one hand, he hated war for all the pain and suffering it brought. He began his public writing career as one the few who opposed the popular Boer War, and he did so with obvious sympathy for the out-gunned Boer farmers. That illustrates something exceptional about him. He was intensely patriotic, but his patriotism was as broad as the world. Imagine a happily married man who wants other men to be happy in their marriages. That’s his love for England and the world.
But it’s also true that few modern writers have as unabashedly praised the reasons why men go to war as avidly as Chesterton. You can it see in his best known novel, The Napoleon of Notting Hill. It’s a tale that delights in London’s rich colours and traditions, and those who would replace that richness with a grey and soulless efficiency soon find themselves under attack. In an early poem Chesterton hinted at why Notting Hill fought: “There is one sin: to call a green leaf grey.”
In an era when most English, whatever their politics, worshiped their Empire, he was a leading champion of the right of little nations, such as Ireland, Poland, and the future Israel, to be free rather than puppets of powerful nations or pawns in a so-called march of progress. As his brother would write, “he denied the right of any nation or Empire, on the pretence of being more civilized, more progressive, more democratic, or more efficient, to take away from another nation its birthright of independence.” To those who gloated about being part of an empire on which the sun never set, he replied that he “had no use for an empire that had no sunsets.”
Along with his love for nations came a dislike for those who would destroy them, putting in their place something not in keeping with human nature. He criticized the cosmopolitan, that alleged citizen of the world, for being so wrapped up in himself he gives his heart to no country. He believed the best answer to the hatreds that fuel wars did not lie in eliminating patriotic feelings. When patriotism is crushed, he warned, something unhealthy appears. He believed that the way to peace lay in teaching people to appreciate the love others feel for their country. Wells might see nationalities as mere raw material for a scientifically run World State, but Chesterton saw in them something enduring and uniquely human. As a Christian, he agreed with the last chapter in the Bible, where, at the end of history, nations not only exist, they have their wounds healed by a Tree of Life (Revelation 22:2). Our nationalities are to be as eternal as our personalities.
Chesterton warned of the dangers posed by internationalists, who would create a mockery of peace by concentrating all power in the hands of a chosen few. Chesterton believed Europe’s peace depended on the larger democracies helping to protect smaller nations from a recognized aggressor. When German militarism emerged again, he believed it would turn east, as indeed it did, so Britain and France should help Poland and its neighbours remain free. Once Germany dominated Eastern Europe, its two-front problem would be solved. It could turn west to attack Britain and France, precisely as it did in 1940. After World War II, Chesterton’s idea became the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a sensible alternative to a League of Nations that was too weak and unfocused or a World State that was too strong and rigid.
German militarism, which Chesterton often called Prussianism, was another danger he understood perhaps better than anyone else. When you see Prussianism in this book, think of militarism with an accompanying racial justification in the once respectable idea of Teutonism. Chesterton fiercely loathed both. His contempt for Teutonism in the international arena and eugenics within a society made him one of Nazism’s earliest foes.
Finally, there was no affection lost between Chesterton and pacifists. He poked gentle fun of the older Quaker pacifists, regarding them as harmless. But he was disturbed by a new pacifism growing more powerful in his day. He believed its leaders were vain and its followers too simple-minded to think beyond clichés. He pointed out a key fact—that these new pacifists often argued alongside militarists. Both claimed Germany wasn’t responsible for the war, so it shouldn’t be punished. Pacifists might argue that man was outgrowing nature’s struggle of ‘tooth and claw,’ while militarists might link war to progress, since it ensured that the ‘fit’ ruled, but both made the same mistake. Both believed might made right. That, Chesterton repeatedly warned, was pure folly. An unpunished Germany would be an unrepentant Germany that would repeat its aggressions. History has shown just how correct he was. It took the disgrace and destruction of World War II to get Germany to abandon its fascination with militarism and the “Strong Man.”
When Chesterton wrote about war, he often drew a sharp distinction between civilization and barbarism. A civilized society, such as Europe’s historic Christendom, had not outgrown war. It had learned how to fight properly, respecting a chivalry so little understood today that the word carries an unmistakable medieval air. Civilizations, he stressed, believe that societies and individuals are responsible for their deeds and hold them accountable. In contrast, barbarians place the blame for events on external forces, whether primitive demons haunting a stream or abstract, scientific forces such as race (Nazism) or class (Marxism). No matter how technologically advanced, a society dominated by fatalism and determinism is barbarian, because it places some ‘thing’ above human decisions and personal bravery.
Now a few technical details. There’s always a problem handling tense in a collection like this. Everything happened in the past, so some purists may insist I write in the past tense. I disagree. If we are to experience these issues as Chesterton’s readers did, we must read them as if we were living back then, with each article fresh off the press, smelling of ink and new paper. That’s why I slip into the past tense only to look back. Of course in a book this long, sometimes I’ll get that wrong, but I feel that’s better than covering these wonderful articles with the dust of ages. There are also differences between British and American spelling. You’ll find both here. Everyone knows “civilization” is the same word as “civilisation.” This book also has the usual problem with capitalizing terms such as pacifism and my solution to that was to muddle through in spite of inconsistencies. Finally, keep in mind that the semi-bold text you see wasn’t in the original articles. I’ve added it to make it easier to find memorable, quotable passages.
One final remark. as a writer, Chesterton has great depth. Read this book several times, and each time you’ll gather more insights into how our sad and troubled world works and what might be done about that. The issues he deals with here are a part of the permanent human condition and are matters from which we cannot escape, however hard we might try. War is merely the most obvious example of situations when we must face with courage, persistence and wisdom an evil that some would deny and others would bend before. Chesterton was an honest and brave man. He did not lie and would not bend. We can learn much from him.
—Michael W. Perry, Seattle, February 25, 2008
A Perspective: Chesterton on War and PeaceRecently, Inkling has turned more and more of its attention G. K. Chesterton, an English writer whose views and great talent as a writer made him proto-Inkling. People who love Lewis almost always love Chesterton. Those whose love of Tolkien has grown beyond the 'elves and ents' stage, also find him delightful.
But there is a major difference. Lewis and Tolkien lived in the cloistured world of Oxford University, spending most of their time working in specialized disciplines. Chesterton was the intellectual equivalent of a world-class, heavy-weight boxer. He worked in London and for most of his adult lived at the center of a storm of controversy, giving his opinion freely and defending it brilliantly. It is said that he never lost a public debate. Having read an exchange of letters he had with the playwright George Bernard Shaw, I can believe that. Shaw had advanced an argument that would have reduced most opponents to foolish babbling. Since the two were personal friends, he should have know better than to try that with Chesterton. In a single paragraph, Chesterton reduced Shaw to utter incoherence. He then kindly ended the debate.
Two aspects of Chesterton are particularly important today. First, when he exploded on the literary scene during the Second Boer War (1899–1902),, the Victoria Age was ending. (Queen Victoria would die in early 1901.) What might be called the Modern Age was beginning. Almost everything people today regard as modern and fashionably progressive isn't new. Chesterton was commenting on it a century ago, agreeing with some aspects and blasting others. And because those ideas were then as fresh as a morning breeze, there's something equally refreshing about his responses. Today, when many debates have grown stale and predictable, it's fascinating to read Chesterton.
To give but one recent example, when suicide bombers first began blowing themselves up, our politicians tended to fall into two camps. Some, mostly on the right, regarded this behavior with legitimate disgust, but talked nonsense when they accused these people of being cowards. It may be cowardly to plant a bomb on a bus and leave it to explode later, which is what Palestinian terrorists did when I lived in Israel, but in general it can't be cowardly to do something that results in your death. The other group, mostly on the left, seemed to regard these suicide bombers with awe and showed an enthusiasm for they considered their "legitimate grievances." Radical, leftist chic for Marxist revolutionaries had morphed into covert support for anti-Semitic terrorists and Islamic theocracies. Odd to say the least.
Chesterton would have been in neither camp. He would have blasted the suicide bombers (and the broader terrorist movement) for their abysmal lack of chivalry rather than for their cowardice. He recognized a right to fight for what you believe and thought all wars that mattered were religious wars, meaning they were about the things that people whole sacred. But he utterly deplored those who drew the weak and helpless into their struggle, making them suffer and die. He would have also blasted as "barbarous" the greater cause for which these terrorists were fighting. In fact, next to Prussianism, Chesterton would define barbarism by pointing to the world of Islam. Civilized societies, Chesterton stressed, told barbaric ones how they should live and not vice-versa.
Chivalry and civilization contrasted with barbarism--how often do we hear that sort of discussion today? Conservatives grasp for a word that conveys their disgust for suicide bombers, but can't come up with anything better that cowardly. Why? Because, with a few exceptions, chivalry has faded from our thoughts. leaving the word with a vague, uncertain meaning that invokes images of knights in armor. Chivalry was dead in the early 1970s when feminists criticized its last, dying ember--men holding doors for women. The idea that chivalrous code of conduct governs warfare and conflict has disappeared entirely, replaced by cold and sterile talk about human rights that pit the terrorist's 'rights' against those of his victims, resulting in total confusion. Chesterton, a man for all seasons and all ages, enables us to see ideas and thoughts that our culture has kept from us.
We see the same blinkered blindness in liberalism's inability to distinguish between civilization and barbarism. For liberals (and many conservatives), civilization refers to the society whose movies, music, gadgetry and consumer goods dominate the world. Such people labor under the illusion that if the Arab young merely pick up the fascination our youth have with rock stars, all the world will live in harmony. Add to that mixture multiculturalism, and you have the world "civilized" when Arab music is as likely to be sung in Peoria as rock music in Riyadh. Chesterton would have called that nonsense. Civilization centers on the rule of law and the protection of the weak. In a civilized society, the poorest man can force the richest to repay a debt. In a barbaric one, might makes right. Islamic societies, where women can be punished for defending themselves against rapists, are barbarous. We need not pander to them and those who kill to spread such barbarism are particularly vile.
Second, Chesterton had a remarkable ability to spot historical trends and sense the direction they were headed. Because he believed strongly that human destiny lay in human hands, he also believed that we have a responsibility to direct our collective lives in ways that enhance human dignity and freedom. That's why he wrote so boldly and bluntly, so often going against the current than on on occasion he expresses surprise to find he is in the majority.
One debate in which Chesterton was such a lively participant involved just that ability to foresee the future and should have earned Chesterton "Hitler's First Foe." I could say a lot about that--far too much to put down here. What Chesterton said about war forms the heart of Inkling's next major book, Chesterton on War and Peace: Battling the Ideas and Movements that Led to Nazism and World War II. In it, Chesterton diagnoses the depth of Germany's "might makes right" heresy long before anyone else, correctly predicting during the First World War that a second war with Germany would follow that would make the horrors of the first look like nothing.
And for us today, virtually everything he had to say about the dangers that a Prussianized Germany posed to civilization apply equally well to the dangers radical Islam poses to a Western society that's far weaker and less confident that it was in 1914. You might want to add it to your 'must read' list.
Cecil Chesterton's Biography of Gilbert
Most Chesterton fans are aware that G. K. Chesterton's younger brother Cecil published a biography of Gilbert in 1908. Unfortunately, except for a brief academic reprint in the 1960s, his book has been out of print ever since. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of its first publication, Inkling Books has brought out a Centennial Edition. As with almost all Inkling reprints, this book is enhanced to make its reading more enjoyable and informative.
All the original text is there, along with the book's four pictures. The new edition also includes the following.
- Three additional pictures, including a marvelous cover photograph of the Chesterton family from about 1908 supplied by Aidan Mackey.
- A foreword by Aidan Mackay, author and Chesterton scholar.
- An introduction by Brocard Sewell, who worked with Chesterton at G.K.'s Weekly.
- An appreciation of Cecil written by Gilbert. Cecil died just after the end of World War I of an illness acquired in the trenches.
- No less than 223 footnotes explaining historical and biographical details that are less well-known today than in 1908.
- A detailed index.
There are also seven appendices created just for this edition. They provide an even fuller snapshot of Chesterton in 1908:
- Chesterton's oft-quoted 1907 poem about the people of England, "The Secret People."
- Chesterton's early 1908 article in New Age, "Why I am not a Socialist.
- H. G. Well's reply to Chesterton in that same magazine.
- Chesterton's response to Wells
- Bernard Shaw's famous "Chesterbelloc" response to Chesterton.
- Chesterton's response to Shaw, closing out the debate.
- A. G. Gardiner's 1908 description of Chesterton. Gardiner was Chesterton's editor at the Daily Mail. Here's a sample to give you a taste of just how marvelous it is.
Walking down Fleet Street some day you may meet a form whose vastness blots out the heavens. Great waves of hair surge from under the soft, wide-brimmed hat. A cloak that might be a legacy from Porthos floats about his colossal frame. He pauses in the midst of the pavement to read the book in his hand, and a cascade of laughter descending from the head notes to the middle voice gushes out on the listening air. He looks up, adjusts his pince-nez, observes that he is not in a cab, remembers that he ought to be in a cab, turns and hails a cab. The vehicle sinks down under the unusual burden and rolls heavily away. It carries Gilbert Keith Chesterton.
Finally, I should say something about the book's title, G. K. Chesterton: A Criticism. When I mention that title to some people, their response is along the lines of, "Yuck, all he is going to do is find fault with Chesterton." Not so. "Criticism" is used in the specialized sense of literary criticism. Cecil, who originally published the book anonymously, is looking at Chesterton as a writer, describing what he what he believes and how well he writes in defense of those beliefs. This is a biography of Chesterton as a thinker by someone who knew his thought better than anyone else. If you want to understand Chesterton, this book is a must-have.
Most bookstores can order the book through Ingram, the largest book wholesaler in the world, and it's available at most online bookstores, here and abroad. But I strongly suggest that you order it from the American Chesterton Society. You can find them at:
The American Chesterton Society
You might also want to ask your school or local public library to get a copy. The sooner a book is requested after it's published, the more likely they are to get a copy. Then others can enjoy this wonderful book.
A Little ExcitementAh, but if only life at Seattle's Inkling Books were as sedate a dabbling in ink like an Oxford professor. And if excitement meant a relaxed evening at a local pub listening to an early draft of The Lord of the Rings, surrounded by friends and good food. Instead, my long labors to create the first-ever, book-length chronology of The Lord of the Rings resulted in my being sued in federal court, before my book was even published, by some rather unpleasant Manhattan lawyers.
But he who who laughs last laughs best. Not being the sort to be pushed around by bullies, particularly when I know what the law actually says, I fought the typical injustice of such disputes by defending myself. And yes, I know the old adage that, "He who defends himself has a fool for a lawyer." But I suspected that my case was an exception, that with a bit a hard work, this clever small-town boy could out think those big-city lawyers.
Besides, I had a family tradition to defend. My great-great-great-grandfather (a white farmer) stood up to the Ku Klux Klan in 1870s Alabama. What were my troubles in comparison to that? And by defending myself, I flipped the economics of lawsuits upside down. A conference with the judge became a $1.25 bus ride for me and a pleasant learning experience. For my opponents it meant the costs of lawyers in both NYC and Seattle and the unpleasant experience of losing the dispute in question.
Just keep in mind that I don't recommend lawsuits if you can avoid them. For one thing, they generate an enormous amount of paper. The filings and correspondence in my dispute fill most of a file cabinet drawer, with most of it generated by their futile attempt to make a case when there was none. If environmentalists really want to save trees, they should get behind tort reform. It'd do far more than whining about recycling iPods.
In the end, I won that lawsuit in the best possible way--far better than any win in a courtroom, which in the grey world of copyright law might hinge on some minor factor. No, after they bailed out of concurrent motions for summary judgment, the judge curtly dismissed their case "with prejudice," which is judge-speak for: "My mind is made up. This case is so clear, it need not go to trial." It's like winning a boxing match in the first thirty seconds of the first round. Not even close.
The book that was the source of the dispute is now out and it's one of Inkling's modest bestsellers—Untangling Tolkien. You'll find it by clicking on "Inkling Books" in the sidebar and then on "J. R. R. Tolkien."
Margaret Sanger's Fashionable RacismWe have other books that are also provocative. Under "Eugenics" there's The Pivot of Civilization in Historical Perspective, which proves from original source documents that Planned Parenthood's founder, Margaret Sanger, championed a fashionable, 'blue state' racism that regarded immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe as "unfit" to be parents. In case your wondering, that's why modern Catholic hate Planned Parenthood. Catholics have as much right to loathe Sanger's creation as black people have to loathe the Ku Klux Klan.
A Nineteenth-Century Hillary ClintonIn anticipation of Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House, I've brought back into print the published speeches of the Hillary of the nineteenth century--Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for President. You'll find her books under "Eugenics." Her 1870s speeches all across America pioneered our sex-mad modern world. In Free Lover I suggest that Aldous Huxley's 1932 Brave New World describes the sort of world she once championed. There is also Lady Eugenist, which shows that historians have gotten the history of eugenics all wrong. The first person to widely promote eugenics wasn't Charles Darwin's cousin, Francis Galton, as so many books claim. As no less an authority than H. G. Wells pointed out, it was Victoria Woodhull. In fact she retired from promoting eugenics in 1901, the same year that Francis Galton took up the cause in earnest. Feminist should make a case out of this blatant sexism, giving a man credit in the sciences for what a woman did first.
Handy Navigation ToolsIn the sidebar, you'll find some handy navigation tools. "About Inkling" describes us. "Inkling Blog" has a placeholder book review at present. Soon it'll discuss the books we're working on. Inkling University will have material, now at a different website, that discusses in detail topics such as eugenics that are covered in our books. It should be an excellent resource for student doing research papers.
Also in the sidebar are two handy tools. You can use Google to search this website, and you can use Yahoo's Babel Fish to translate pages into some twelve languages. Just keep in mind that we have no control over the translation, so in some cases what appears may be a bit strange in places.