G.K. Chesterton in Sight & Sound





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Published on Jan 1, 2008

You can now buy all four of the recorded speeches of GK Chesterton on CD or as individual MP3 downloads at CDBaby:


In this video you will hear some of all four of the only known sound recordings in existence made by G.K. Chesterton, along with a couple of seconds (literally) from a news reel of him & his wife Frances.

(You can get GKC's recording of "The Spices of Life" on CD now):


When C.S. Lewis was asked which books had the biggest impact on his spiritual life, the first one he named was "The Everlasting Man" by Chesterton. Lewis's well known 'Lord, Liar, Lunatic' argument was in actuality a paraphrase (rather poorly perhaps) from Chesterton in this book.

Chesterton is probably best known to the public through his 'Father Brown' mystery stories, many of which were made into television movies. His novel, "The Man Who Was Thursday" is highly regarded amid all of English literature. Chesterton was perhaps the most prolific author of all-time. He left a volume of work that actually filled an attic room from floor to ceiling. Along with authoring nearly a hundred books, he also wrote thousands of newspaper articles, most of them for his own paper—GK's Weekly.

Almost everyone remembers learning about the Scopes Monkey Trial in which the famous lawyer Clarence Darrow pretty much wiped the floor with a southern fundamentalist Christian politician by the name of William Jennings Bryan. As usual, fundies don't have a leg to stand on, and Darrow showed this all too well. But what a lot of people don't know is that six years later Darrow had the opportunity to debate a non-fundamentalist Christian, someone who was a much more worthy opponent—G.K. Chesterton. The exchange took place at New York City's Mecca Temple. The topic was "Will the World Return to Religion?" Of the nearly 3500 people who attended, Chesterton received 2,359 votes, a decisive win. In the February 4, 1931, issue of The Nation, this is what was said about the debate:

In the ballot that followed, the audience voted more than two to one for the defender of the faith, Mr. Chesterton of course, and if the vote was on the relative merits of the two debaters, and not on the question itself, it was surely a very just one. Mr. Chesterton's argument was like Mr. Chesterton, amiable, courteous, jolly; it was always clever, it was full of nice turns of expression, and altogether a very adroit exhibition by one of the world's ablest intellectual fencing masters and one of its most charming gentlemen.

Mr. Darrow's personality, by contrast, seemed rather colorless and certainly very dour. His attitude seemed almost surly; he slurred his words; the rise and fall of his voice was sometimes heavily melodramatic, and his argument was conducted on an amazingly low intellectual level.

Ostensibly the defender of science against Mr. Chesterton, he obviously knew much less about science than Mr. , it was patent that he did not have the remotest conception of what the new physics was all about. His victory over Mr. Bryan at Dayton had been too cheap and easy; he remembered it not wisely but too well. His arguments are still the arguments of the village atheist of the Ingersoll period; at Mecca Temple he still seemed to be trying to shock and convince yokels.

Mr. Chesterton's deportment was irreproachable, but I am sure that he was secretly unhappy. He had been on the platform many times against George Bernard Shaw. This opponent could not extend his powers. He was not getting his exercise.


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