Though the knight-errant who seeks for giants and cuts their heads off is out of date, nothing can be more modern than Sir Chesterton of Overroads, who seeks for convictions and turns them inside out.
—GEORGE BERNARD SHAW (1916)
It is one of Mr. Chesterton’s jolly maxims that a man should be able to laugh at himself, poke fun at himself, enjoy his own absurdity. It is an excellent test of mental health. Man is a tragi-comedian. He should see himself the quaint “forked radish” that he is, fantastic as well as wonderful. He should see his mind ready to do battle and die, if need be, for an idea, but equally ready to get into a passion because his egg is boiled too hard. He should, in a word, see himself not as a hero, but as a man of strange virtues and stranger follies, a figure to move him to alternate admiration and laughter.
—ALFRED GEORGE GARDINER (1914)
In April 1914 A. G. Gardiner, editor of the Daily News and an accomplished essayist, published a new edition of his book of character portraits, a collection called Prophets, Priests, and Kings. As its title indicated, people from all three groups were the subject of profiles—including King Edward VII, Kaiser Wilhelm, David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, John Singer Sargent, George Bernard Shaw, Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Hardy, General William Booth of the Salvation Army, and Florence Nightingale. All were leading figures in the worlds of politics, the visual arts, literature, and philanthropy. Chesterton was numbered among them, and the resulting prose portrait revealed the man who was G. K. C. at the height of his powers and celebrity.
Kevin Belmonte, Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life & Impact of G. K. Chesterton, from Chapter 18
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