There is at the back of all our lives an abyss of light, more blinding and unfathomable than any abyss of darkness; and it is the abyss of actuality, of existence, of the fact that things truly are, and that we are ourselves incredibly and sometimes almost incredulously real.
—G. K. CHESTERTON
These were some of the most beautiful and life-affirming words that Chesterton ever wrote. They were a kind of centerpiece to one of the great works of his later career, Chaucer (published in 1932).
Lewis “would bid me study again Chesterton’s Everlasting Man; would anxiously ask if the chaplains had really got it into their heads that the ancients had got every whit as good brains as we had.”
—CHARLES GILMORE, ON C. S. LEWIS (1996)
The Everlasting Man, published on 30 September , grew out of the controversy that had raged between [Hilaire] Belloc and H. G. Wells ever since the latter had published his Outline of History
—JOSEPH PEARCE (1996)
Those who begin to delve more deeply into Chesterton’s life and writings soon learn that his book The Everlasting Man proved a profoundly important catalyst in C. S. Lewis’s return to belief in Christianity.
The detail over which these monks went mad with joy was the universe itself; the only thing really worthy of enjoyment. The white daylight shone over all the world, the endless forests stood up in their order. The lightning awoke and the tree fell and the sea gathered into mountains and the ship went down, and all these disconnected and meaningless and terrible objects were all part of one dark and fearful conspiracy of goodness, one merciless scheme of mercy.
—“FRANCIS,” FROM VARIED TYPES (1903)
Long ago in those days of boyhood my fancy first caught fire with the glory of Francis of Assisi.” So wrote Chesterton in the opening pages of one of his best-beloved books, St. Francis of Assisi, published in 1923. This medieval saint, it seems, had always held a special place in his moral imagination, and the writing of this biographical study was fulfilling a debt of gratitude.
But it was an odd pairing of kindred souls, to be sure. Francis, the ascetic saint, and Chesterton the ebullient bon vivant—a man whose appearance and habits ran so dramatically counter to any notion of asceticism.