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Rachel and Her Race

Patrick Parrinder, 18 August 1994

Constructions of ‘the Jew’ in English Literature and Society: Racial Representations, 1875-1945 
by Bryan Cheyette.
Cambridge, 301 pp., £35, November 1993, 0 521 44355 5
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The Jewish Heritage in British History: Englishness and Jewishness 
edited by Tony Kushner.
Cass, 234 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 7146 3464 6
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... species unity. His strident anti-Zionism led, and still leads, to charges of anti-semitism. G.K. Chesterton, who undoubtedly was anti-semitic, called himself a Zionist and encouraged the Jews to return to where they originally came from. From a Chestertonian viewpoint there is an obvious link between the 1917 Balfour Declaration on a Jewish national homeland ...


Sheila Fitzpatrick: Remembering my father, 8 February 2007

... mine, along with The Way of All Flesh and other satirical classics; we were also very fond of G.K. Chesterton. Lenin’s Works, bound in orange, were on our shelves, chosen by my father as a university prize to cock a snook at the prize committee, but I never saw him consult them. When I was very young I thought we were Jewish. That was because we lived in a ...

Famous Last Screams

Michael Howard, 5 December 1991

On Future War 
by Martin van Creveld.
Brassey, 254 pp., £22.50, October 1991, 0 08 041796 5
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... it has to be said that his thesis now looks less convincing than it may have twelve months ago. G.K  Chesterton once described a popular and inexpensive pastime known as ‘Cheating the Prophet’, which consisted simply in listening to wise men forecasting what would happen and then doing exactly the opposite. People are still quite good at playing ...


Edna Longley: Ireland by Others, 17 September 1987

... to removing other people from Ireland, if not from the planet. Ms Belfrage goes on to quote G.K. Chesterton: ‘For all their wars are merry / And all their songs are sad.’ This is a fair specimen of colluding propagandas. Irish critics with a Nationalist perspective deconstruct (ungratefully) the legacy of Thomas Moore – strictly for the English, like ...

Thanks to the Fels-Naptha Soap King

Miles Taylor: George Lansbury, 22 May 2003

George Lansbury: At the Heart of Old Labour 
by John Shepherd.
Oxford, 407 pp., £35, September 2002, 0 19 820164 8
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... day as news of the Titanic’s fate reached Britain, the paper gave space to Hilaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, the young Rebecca West (briefly) and Osbert Sitwell, in addition to G.D.H. Cole and the gifted cartoonist Will Dyson. Later, as leader of the Labour Party in the 1930s, Lansbury presided over a renaissance of ...

A Broad Grin and a Handstand

E.S. Turner: ‘the fastest woman in the world’ and the wild early years of motor-racing, 24 June 2004

The Bugatti Queen: In Search of a Motor-Racing Legend 
by Miranda Seymour.
Simon and Schuster, 301 pp., £15.99, February 2004, 0 7432 3146 5
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... Go on their belly like the Snake And eat the dust as he did. Flat as fish? Could G.K. Chesterton unknowingly have been enjoying a vision of the ...


P.N. Furbank, 18 October 1984

Experiment in Autobiography: Discoveries and Conclusion of a Very Ordinary Brain (since 1866) 
by H.G. Wells.
Faber, 838 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 571 13330 4
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H.G. Wells in Love: Postscript to an Experiment in Autobiography 
edited by G.P. Wells.
Faber, 253 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 571 13329 0
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The Man with a Nose, and the Other Uncollected Short Stories of H.G. Wells 
edited by J.R. Hammond.
Athlone, 212 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 485 11247 7
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... or moral exemplum, won’t do, and the argument against them was put very satisfactorily by G.K. Chesterton in Heretics. ‘The weakness of all Utopias is this, that they take the greatest difficulty of man and assume it to be overcome, and then give an elaborate account of the overcoming of the small ones. They first assume that no man will want more than ...

Keeping up with the novelists

John Bayley, 20 June 1985

Unholy Pleasure: The Idea of Social Class 
by P.N. Furbank.
Oxford, 154 pp., £9.50, June 1985, 0 19 215955 0
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... of the term, which upset the gentleman who thought he could not portray one. Furbank quotes G.K. Chesterton on the point: ‘When people say that Dickens could not describe a gentleman ... they mean he did not describe a gentleman as gentlemen feel a gentleman. He described them in the way he described waiters, or railway guards, or men drawing with chalk on ...


D.A.N. Jones, 5 November 1992

Death in Chile: A Memoir and a Journey 
by Tony Gould.
Picador, 277 pp., £15.99, July 1992, 0 330 32271 0
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Some write to the future 
by Ariel Dorfman, translated by George Shivers and Ariel Dorfman.
Duke, 271 pp., £10.95, May 1992, 0 8223 1269 7
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... expanded in a scholarly footnote. He records that Borges writes ‘of the infinite, of China, of Chesterton, and of eternity’, that he sets his characters in archaic costumes within ‘Muslim, English, Chinese or Persian locales’: but he asserts that all his characters are Latin Americans – like the characters of Asturias, Carpentier and Garcia ...

An Ugly Baby

Andrew Berry: Alfred Russel Wallace, 18 May 2000

Footsteps in the Forest: Alfred Russel Wallace in the Amazon 
by Sandra Knapp.
Natural History Museum, 96 pp., £16.95, November 1999, 0 565 09143 3
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... as will be a forthcoming major critical study from Martin Fichman. It’s about time. G.K. Chesterton considered him to be one of two candidates for the title of ‘most important and significant figure of the 19th century’ (the other was Walt Whitman). Chesterton appreciated Wallace’s enigmatic mix of ...

He’ll have brought it on Himself

Colm Tóibín, 22 May 1997

Sex, Nation and Dissent in Irish Writing 
edited by Éibhear Walshe.
Cork, 210 pp., £40, April 1997, 1 85918 013 2
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Gooddbye to Catholic Ireland 
by Mary Kenny.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 320 pp., £20, March 1997, 1 85619 751 4
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... effectively began – as “The Greatest Day in Irish History”,’ Kenny writes. She cites G.K. Chesterton, who met a woman on a Dublin tram during the Congress. ‘Well, if it rains now,’ she said, ‘He’ll have brought it on Himself.’ Chesterton saw a banner hanging between two tenement houses: ‘God Bless Christ ...

Get off your knees

Ferdinand Mount: An Atheist in the House, 30 June 2011

Dare to Stand Alone: The Story of Charles Bradlaugh, Atheist and Republican 
by Bryan Niblett.
Kramedart, 391 pp., £19.99, January 2011, 978 0 9564743 0 8
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... the enormous “Iconoclast”, he is a priest defending an altar.’ This was the verdict of G.K. Chesterton on the death of Charles Bradlaugh (1833-91), atheist and republican, publicist for contraception – and, in short, for pretty much everything Chesterton hated. This genial tribute from the champion of Orthodoxy with ...

Wrong Kind of Noise

Marina Warner: Silence is Best, 19 December 2013

Silence: A Christian History 
by Diarmaid MacCulloch.
Allen Lane, 337 pp., £20, April 2013, 978 1 84614 426 4
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... By a bizarre twist, G.K. Chesterton may be en route to sanctity: it was reported in August that the Bishop of Northampton has begun a suit for his canonisation. Diarmaid MacCulloch doesn’t invoke Chesterton’s miracle-working powers, but he opens this expanded version of his 2012 Gifford Lectures with a Father Brown story, ‘The Oracle of the Dog’: by howling at a certain time, the animal gives the priestly sleuth the clue to the murder weapon ...

The Sun-Bather

Michael Neve, 3 July 1980

Havelock Ellis 
by Phyllis Grosskurth.
Allen Lane, 492 pp., £10, June 1980, 0 7139 1071 2
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... fully articulated by Bernard Shaw, perfectly acceptable to Wells, and only opposed by such as G.K. Chesterton. Ms Grosskurth also hints, at this point in her book, at Ellis’s anti-semitism. What kind of figure was he then? One hesitates, in the pages of the London Review of Books, with its editorial opposition to ‘deconstruction’, to mention Michel ...

Short is sweet

Christopher Ricks, 3 February 1983

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs 
edited by J.A. Simpson.
Oxford, 256 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 19 866131 2
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A World of Proverbs 
by Patricia Houghton.
Blandford, 152 pp., £5.95, September 1981, 0 7137 1114 0
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... Aldous Huxley (‘When Greek meets Greek ...’) here speaks of ‘the tug of bores’; and G.K. Chesterton, more searchingly, insists that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. An ‘old Cockney Russian proverb’ (1980) says that ‘The family that spies together, sties together.’ (Why not ‘prays’ into ‘pries’?) Even the ad-men are ...

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