Friday, November 13, 2015
Sherlock Holmes meets G. K. Chesterton
Sherlock Holmes had notoriety in his time, but even more well known, at the turn of the century, was Gilbert Keith Chesterton. Nonetheless, today, most people have heard of Sherlock, while few know of Chesterton and his literary contributions. That is one reason he was introduced in Sherlock Holmes - The Golden Years by Kim H Krisco. The hope was that the reader might be tempted to look into the works of this literary giant. And, if the reader did so, they would find him as relevant today as he was a century ago.
All the issues we struggle with in the 21st century, Chesterton foresaw, and wrote about, in the early 20th century. Social injustice, the culture of death, statism, assaults on religion, and attacks on the family, and on the dignity of the human person: Chesterton saw where these trends emerging in his time.
Chesterton considered himself to be a journalist, I supposed because he spent most of his life writing for newspapers. He wrote over 4,000 newspaper essays for the Illustrated London News, and 13 years of columns for the Daily News. That’s the equivalent of writing an essay a day, every day, for twelve years. He was considered absent-minded, but that was likely the result of his mind being almost continuously consumed with some new thought that was gestating and finding its way into the next day’s newspaper column or story.
Chesterton took on most of the intellectuals of his time: George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Bertrand Russell, and Clarence Darrow. He tackled what might be called the “big isms” of life: materialism, determinism, moral relativism, socialism, classism, and capitalism. He honored the “common man” and common sense. But what is just as amazing, he did this in a manner that made you chuckle or laugh.
Despite his monumental body of work, Chesterton is often neglected in classrooms, and his work is unknown by many who consider themselves “well educated.” That is why he was introduced in a fictional story, “The Curse of the Black Feather,” which is one of the five tales in the collection Sherlock Holmes – The Golden Years. In this tale, G. K. Chesterton brings a curious case to the great detective that sends Holmes and Watson on a series of madcap adventures that reach into the underground labyrinth beneath London, and across the Atlantic to America, as the infamous duo pursue one of the most diabolical villains Holmes has ever encountered.
Hopefully, this introduction to Gilbert Keith Chesterton opens the door to the works of this genius who deserves to be on the bookshelves of every serious reader. Such is also true of the most popular fictional character of all time – Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
Keeping the spirit of Sherlock Holmes and G. K. Chesterton alive!