08 January 2007

GK Chesterton's autobiography

I'm reading the autobiography of one of my literary heroes, G.K. Chesterton. It's a witty, insightful, amazing book, and I'd like to share a few excerpts with you. Here's the first line:

Bowing down in blind credulity, as is my custom, before mere authority and the tradition of the elders, superstitiously swallowing a story I could not test at the time by experiment or private judgment, I am firmly of the opinion that I was born on the 29th of May, 1874...
Later on, talking about some stories and pictures he created with his brother when they were children, he writes:

"we never thought of doing anything with them, except enjoying them. It has sometimes struck me as not being a bad thing to do with things."
In a chapter titled "How To Be A Lunatic," he wrote a line that I will someday use as the introductory quote to my own autobiography... assuming I ever get around to writing one:

"When I look back on these things, and indeed on my life generally, the thing that strikes me most is my extraordinary luck."
This next quote made me think of my own little writing career, and the entirely unsuitable (& deliberately unsuitable) things I tend to submit for publication:

"What is really the matter, with almost every paper, is that it is much too full of things suitable for the paper."
And finally, here is a little bit of poetry he wrote, which makes me laugh every time I read it. It is actually the refrain to a longer ballad, which was inspired by a dinner party he attended, where he accidentally broke "an ordinary tumbler." The story of the broken glass quickly blossomed into a legend where the glass became "a vessel of inconceivable artistic and monetary value..." I love the fact that he wrote a ballad about a dinner party mishap.

Prince, when I took you goblet tall
And smashed it with inebriate care,
I knew not how from Rome and Gaul
You gained it; I was unaware
It stood by Charlemagne's great chair
And served St. Peter at High Mass.
I'm sorry if the thing was rare;
I like the noise of breaking glass.


Michelle said...

I like the quote about just enjoying what you create. We should all remember that.

Dan said...

Yeah - I like to say I write for my own amazement... and my books are project that are worth writing, even if nobody else ever thinks they're worth reading.

I just have a blast doing it...