Monday, 24 September 2007

G K Chesterton

'A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.'

This quote is from G K Chesterton, a favourite of mine. He is best known for the Father Brown stories (with which, it is said, he incidentally converted himself to Roman Catholicism). But my favourite book of his is The Man Who Was Thursday, worth reading if you haven't.

He wrote poetry too. One I like so much that I have learned it (no easy task for me, it took weeks) is The Last Hero.

It is a poem full of wild romance, about a hero who is having a truly terrible day. His enemies have taken over his ancestral home, and are hunting him down. He has walked twenty miles through pouring rain, knowing they will overtake him. The woman he loves hated him. But he remains cheerful and full of appetite for life.

I recite it to myself when feeling hard done by, or when caught in a downpour. Great stuff.


  1. Good gracious, you committed that to memory? How very neat! It has been decades since I even tried to load the noggin with another's words. Used to be not all that difficult in the ol' acting days, but I never got parts with really big speeches, if ya know what I mean.

    I was tardy in supplying something for episode 12 of Harry Splutter and Norm did a wonderful job. The both of you are developing into enviably facile wordsmiths. I grovel at your feet.

    Lunch time is over.


  2. We had to learn poems, speeches and whole bally chapters of history books at my school. I found it hard, as I don't have that sort of memory.

    But a poem you love is worth the effort, and for me it's a real achievement.

    Re Splutter; stop grovelling - it will do no good to the knees of your trousers. I'm pleased if I just make a reader smile, but my stuff never makes people fall about laughing like yours does.

  3. If I may be so bold as to differ. The bit about the knitting eyebrows is splendid. As is the "Russet" bit. And Norm gets off some terrific stuff of his own. Just the idea of the elderly wizards being literally "disarmed" never occurred to me, yet it is just right. Makes we wonder what their hands would like to get up to now that they are free and unencumbered by restricting brains and perhaps the accompanying morals.

    I would advise Hermione to be on her guard.

  4. Please Alan,

    Expelli-ARM-is? What else could it be?

    I agree the knitting eyebrows is very funny. I LAUGHED, not smiled, nor lightly chuckled. I guffawed.

    Apropos of nothing, one of my favorite lines is in a Spike Jones song involving a horse named Feitlebaum, "It'll either be a photo finish or an oil painting..."

  5. Hi I would like to wish you lots of luck with your book now that it's in the top ten on YWO.

    May I ask how long has it taken you to get into the top ten?

    Best wishes

  6. Hi Annie,

    Thanks for the good wishes.

    Overall, it took me about three months from when I joined to get something in the top ten. That was a short story, which I think is easier to get up there.

    Trav Zander hung about in the top twenty for three months before getting to the lower reaches of the top ten, because the first four reviewers marked lower than most subsequent ones.

    There's a lot of luck, good and bad, on Youwriteon.

  7. That is a wonderful poem. Thanks for pointing it out! I may not memorize it, but I will think of it often!

  8. Hi Matthew,

    You have made me look again at your beautiful blog, which I'd forgotten.

    I think it was a posting of yours that ended in my buying a Remembrance umbrella, black with a huge red poppy on it. Lovely.