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By Gilbert K. Chesterton / John Lane / 1908
Orthodoxy is Chesterton’s most well-known work. First published 100 years ago and reprinted ever since, Orthodoxy is a classic work that is part memoir, part apologetic. It exhibits Chesterton at his finest—a combination of literary wit, theological acumen, and pointed cultural critic.
Orthodoxy has become a classic, taking its place on the shelves of thinking Christians beside Augustine’s Confession and C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. His goals for Orthodoxy are simple: “I have attempted in a vague and personal way, in a set of mental pictures rather than in a series of deductions, to state the philosophy in which I have come to believe. I will not call it my philosophy; for I did not make it. God and humanity made it; and it made me.” He sharply criticizes the prevailing secular understanding of truth while documenting the genesis of his own spiritual journey. Throughout, Chesterton comments on the intellectual giants of his day—H.G. Wells, Walt Whitman, Arthur Schopenhauer, and George Bernard Shaw.
Chesterton’s Orthodoxy [is] one of my favorite books. I think it’s the only book I have read more than twice (except for the Bible).
In reading Chesterton, as in reading MacDonald, I did not know what I was letting myself in for. A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere—‘Bibles laid open, millions of surprises,’ as Herbert says, ‘fine nets and stratagems.’ God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.
—C. S. Lewis
[My] greatest influence in writing was G. K. Chesterton, who never used a useless word, who saw the value of a paradox, and avoided what was trite.
—Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
G.K. Chesterton was born in London in 1874. He worked at the Redway and T. Fisher Unwin publishing house until 1902, when he began writing regularly—his weekly columns appeared for decades in the Daily News and The Illustrated London News. In all, he wrote more than 80 books, hundreds of poems, 200 short stories, and 4,000 essays. Among his writings are his famous apologetic work Orthodoxy, a biography of St. Aquinas, his Father Brown detective stories, The Napoleon of Notting Hill, and The Man Who Was Thursday. He died on June 14, 1936 in Buckinghamshire.