“I’m in good shape. That shape is round.”
This lovely quote comes from author Jarod Kintz, and it’s one that today’s profilee, Mr. Gilbert Chesterton would have appreciated.
Better known as G.K Chesterton, he was one of the more famous authors of the first half of the 20th century. Well known for his words as well as his noticeable girth, he once told the rather skinny George Bernard Shaw that looking at him one “would think a famine had struck England”. Shaw replied, “To look at you, anyone would think you have caused it.”
But Chesterton wasn’t just a man for fat jokes. He was known for his witty detective novels, his piercing essays, works of poetry, plays, radio programs, and debates with other great minds of his time. He was a man who loved paradox, and his fans appreciate every one. Things like “if there were no god, there would be no atheists“. One can picture him sitting at his desk late at night dreaming up these mindbenders with a glass of scotch and a quill pen, letting out a satisfied chuckle when one hit the mark.
Born to Unitarian parents in London in 1874, young Gilbert was a prodigious writer from an early age. At age 27, he married his beautifully named wife Frances Blogg, to whom he remained married for the rest of his life.
Mrs. Blogg often had to deal with Chesterton’s famous forgetfulness. He would find himself in some unexpected place, not knowing why he was there. Gilbert would call home asking where he’s supposed to be, and the wife would say “home”. He would then trodge back to the house, presuming he didn’t get lost again on the way back. Sounds quite delightful.
Shaw, his “frenemy”, described Chesterton as a “man of colossal genius”. The two had a relationship all too rare in today’s internet yelling match world, where they frequently disagreed on many matters, but found delight in discussing and debating their differing viewpoints. The two had a huge amount of respect for one another. That, and still time for a few fat jokes too to keep things light.
We’ve barely scratched the surface here, but I think we can all appreciate a man with a name like Chesterton even with just the most cursory glance.
Enjoy your weekend!