Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Club of Queer Trades

The Club Of Queer TradesThe Club Of Queer Trades by G.K. Chesterton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How even to review this? And what exactly is the point? For that matter, what was the point of it being written? It certainly wasn't a necessary book. I don't believe the great Catholic ever sat down and said, "How to save England and the rest of the world? Ah, this will do the trick." And if I'm mistaken, if he did utter such a phrase, it wasn't about this book. Perhaps he simply needed to stretch the legs of his mind--indeed, I shall take that as the excuse (it will serve as well as any other), and now, allow me to invite you to accompany him in his hike, for the air has the smell of salt, yet there are mountains, valleys, dark close woods and expansive vistas unfolding as vast as the very designs of God.

How does one take words--I dare say he employed none that I am not on intimate terms with--and craft such glories as this book with them? I love words (and use them interminably), but they do not perform for me the way they do for him. I would give all I own to be able to see the world with the eyes of Chesterton—wait: no, this isn't true. I would not. Were I to receive his vision it would terrify me, and I would probably give all I own to be restored to my blind state. Indeed, what would a man give to restore the roof of the sky if it were at a moment rent away?

It is no wonder that we build house-boxes to enclose our souls so that the four corners of the world do not tear them apart. We build fences and post signs and do all we can to make the world a safe, a soft place, when there is nothing quite so suddenly savage or terrible as a dandelion or a daffodil, and a dragon is no more awesome (though grown somewhat less common) than a dragonfly. Yet we seek to finally and fully conquer nature through knowledge: we seek to tame the world with science.

But Chesterton did not. He wanted the world to be wild, and he rebelled at the tired, grey apathy of sin that disguises itself in the guise of respectability and wisdom. So, he carried a brace of loaded pistols, a dagger, a sword cane and a cape, and he laughed as loudly and often as a child. For the world was not a safe place, and he was not a safe man.

Indeed, Chesterton was a man, who, with N. D. Wilson, would not be afraid that he would fall off a cliff, but that he would jump.

(And the book was good too.)

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Bobbi Jo said...

Your review is tops. I read CoQT long enough ago that I don't recall the year, the gist of any particular story, or where I borrowed the book from. I do remember the sudden gaping feeling one gets while reading Chesterton - it always reminds me of the saying that 'if one feels as though the top of one's head has been taken off, that is poetry.'

J. A. Broussard said...


Chesterton actually has a book of poetry that I value more than almost every other of my 70+ poetry books combined. Tolkien viewed him as the best author since "The Great Bard," by which he meant not Macbeth but Beowulf.

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