Favorites from Orthodoxy

In between nesting and working and frequent trips to the bathroom, I’ve been enjoying a leisurely re-read of G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. His chapter on “The Ethics of Elfland” is probably one of the most true and most beautiful essays ever written. Here are a few of my favorite passages, so you can enjoy his thoughtful prose without having to dig up your own copy.

Surly-looking old fellow, isn't he?

“In short, oddities only strike ordinary people. Oddities do not strike odd people. This is why ordinary people have a much more exciting time; while odd people are always complaining of the dullness of life. This is also why the new novels die so quickly, and why the old fairy tales endure forever. The old fairy tale makes the hero a normal human boy; it is his adventures that are startling; they startle him because he his normal. But in the modern psychological novel, the hero is abnormal: the center is not central. Hence the fiercest adventures fail to affect him adequately and the book is monotonous.”

“Progress itself cannot progress. It is worth remark, in passing, that when Tennyson, in a wild and rather weak manner, welcomed the idea of infinite alteration in society, he instinctively took a metaphor which suggests an imprisoned tedium. He wrote–Let the great world spin forever down the ringing grooves of change. He thought of change itself as an unchangeable groove; and so it is.”

“It cannot be a coincidence that glass is so common a substance in folk-lore. This princess lives in a glass castle, that princess on a glass hill; this one sees all things in a mirror, they may all live in glass houses if they will not throw stones. For this thin glitter of glass everywhere is the expression of the fact that the happiness is bright but brittle, like the substance most easily smashed by a housemaid or a cat. And this fairy-tale sentiment also sank into me and became my sentiment toward the whole world. I felt and feel that life itself is as bright as the diamond, but as brittle as the window-pane.”

“A woman loses a child even in having a child. All creation is separation. Birth is as solemn a parting as death.”

Ah, Chesterton…do you ever tire of having just the right turn of phrase? Good reading. Just so you know, it looks the doc’s official due-date has come and gone without so much as a Braxton-Hicks.  I’ve been eating pineapple. Earlier today, the baby had the hiccups. Two more days of work. Pray for patience!





Filed under Faith, Reading, Witticism

3 responses to “Favorites from Orthodoxy

  1. Enjoyed the bit about glass – that might find its way into my creative process for that art piece I’m supposed to be working on.


  2. I just read Orthodoxy, too. It was my first time through and I’m still pondering some of his ideas. What a lovely book. And I love your blog, Laurel! Very interesting and wonderful – just like you. Here’s hoping your boy makes his arrival soon, too!

  3. Hannah

    I haven’t read much Chesterton, but I like him. I love the bit you posted about being odd. I’ve never thought of it that way. In fact, I’m still sorting it through.

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