glyph 502: book . G. K. Chesterton . philosophy, common sense, humor, ideas ... great writing ... the art of quest . pursuit of the unexpected at the somewhat safe edges of the expected . the real problem with elephants having trunks and why it makes us uneasy


Toward a Life of Practical Romance — G. K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy

the view of the Explorers Foundation

Early in his book, Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton writes:

To show that a faith or a philosophy is true from every standpoint would be too big an undertaking even for a much bigger book than this; it is necessary to follow one path of argument; and this is the path that I here propose to follow. I wish to set forth my faith as particularly answering this double spiritual need, the need for that mixture of the familiar and the unfamiliar which Christendom has rightly named romance. For the very word "romance" has in it the mystery and ancient meaning of Rome. Any one setting out to dispute anything ought always to begin by saying what he does not dispute. Beyond stating what he proposes to prove he should always state what he does not propose to prove. The thing I do not propose to prove, the thing I propose to take as common ground between myself and any average reader, is this desirability of an active and imaginative life, picturesque and full of a poetical curiosity, a life such as western man at any rate always seems to have desired. If a man says that extinction is better than existence or blank existence better than variety and adventure, then he is not one of the ordinary people to whom I am talking. If a man prefers nothing I can give him nothing. But nearly all people I have ever met in this western society in which I live would agree to the general proposition that we need this life of practical romance; the combination of something that is strange with something that is secure. We need so to view the world as to combine an idea of wonder and an idea of welcome. We need to be happy in this wonderland without once being merely comfortable. It is THIS achievement of my creed that I shall chiefly pursue in these pages.

Orthodoxy, by Chesterton, G. K. (Gilbert Keith), 1874-1936, made available by Project Gutenberg: (wherein the issue with elephants is noted)

efGlyph 205 on the book, Orthodoxy •••
July 4, 2010; edited/updated November 26, 2015

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