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The Well and the Shallows [Paperback]

By G. K. Chesterton (Author)
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Item description for The Well and the Shallows by G. K. Chesterton...

One of Chesterton's last works, this is a collection of his essays on a variety of cultural, social, and moral issues that seem even more urgent today. His trademark wit and perceptive analysis of the absurdities and excesses of modern life are here, but with a more serious tone than usual. (Catholic)

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Ignatius Press
Pages   203
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.98" Width: 5.32" Height: 0.65"
Weight:   0.59 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2007
Publisher   Ignatius Press
ISBN  1586171267  
ISBN13  9781586171261  

Availability  0 units.

More About G. K. Chesterton

G. K. Chesterton G.K. Chesteron was born in 1874. He attended the Slade School of Art, where he appears to have suffered a nervous breakdown, before turning his hand to journalism. A prolific writer throughout his life, his best-known books include The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904), The Man Who Knew Too Much(1922), The Man Who Was Thursday (1908) and the Father Brown stories. Chesterton converted to Roman Catholicism in 1922 and died in 1938.

Michael D. Hurley is a Lecturer in English at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of St Catharine's College. He has written widely on English literature from the nineteenth century to the present day, with an emphasis on poetry and poetics. His book on G. K. Chesterton was published in 2011.

G. K. Chesterton lived in London. G. K. Chesterton was born in 1874 and died in 1936.

G. K. Chesterton has published or released items in the following series...

  1. Classic Wisdom Collection
  2. Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton
  3. Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton
  4. Doubleday Image Book
  5. Father Brown Mysteries (Audio)
  6. Hendrickson Christian Classics
  7. Image Classic
  8. Modern Library Classics (Paperback)
  9. Moody Classics
  10. Paraclete Heritage Edition

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1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Religious Studies > Christianity
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( C ) > Chesterton, G. K.
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Inspirational
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Roman Catholic

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Well and the Shallows?

A Clear, Concise Look at Social, Religious, Economic, Philosophical, and Political Problems  Nov 24, 2008
G.K. Chesterton (1874-1937)wrote a collection of essays which are logical, clear, and prophetic. Chesterton had insight of the problems of 20th. century and predicted the disasters that were incubating in Europe and to a lesser degree in these United States. He diagnosed the problems of marriage and the family, the uncertain status of Protestantism, plus economic and social problems. Chesterton knew that the worship of the State and the glorification of force and violence could not solve any modern social and economic dislocations no matter how firmly Free Thinkers, Communists, Fascists, etc. passionately thought they could.

Chesterton's comments on easy divorce were thoughtful. He argued in effect that divorce which was supposed to be the exception had now changed in that the exception had become the rule. Chesterton denouced phony senstitivity parroted in newspapers and social pages. For example, he cited an example when a wife got sympathy because her husband's socks did not match the carpet. Another example was a wife's outrage over the color of her husband's necktie. The social commentaries actually took these childish protests seriously and expressed sympathy for such shallow, childish nonsense.

The book titled THE WELL AND THE SHALLOWS also had profound political essays. Chesterton agreed that the Fascists and Communists had some legitimate complaint against International Finance with its subsidies and political protection vs. blue collar workers and the middle class. Yet, Chesterton condemned Big Communism and Fascism for its worship of violence, class warfare, and dehumanizing solutions. Chesterton reminded readers that Pope Leo III (1878-1903) had already offered a practical, peaceful solution when he issued his statement titled Rerum Novarum which offered peaceful solutions and suggestions to the plutocratic wealthy and working classes. Yet, no one noticed.

Chesterton also railed against the hypocracy of the so-called leftists. Chesterton agree that the rise of Fascism, National Socialism, and Big Communism had valid criticisms of the corrupt poltical and economic status quo. However, Chesterton clearly alerted readers that the Fascists were condemned for using violence. Yet, when the Spanish Leftists used violence against innocent Spanish priests and teachers, there were all sorts of false justifications. Chesterton wryly showed that the Fascists were wrong in worshipping violence. However, when the leftists used Fascist violence against innocent people because of their religious status, there were no protests against such unreasonable violence and wanton murder of innocents.

Chesterton also showed insight into the fraud of Big Capitalism and Commercialism. One must know that these essays were written during the Great Depression. Chesteron mentioned a customer who complaint that razors did not shave, and the businessman responded that razors were not meant to shave but to sell. Chesterton remarked that Commercialism had perverted a sense of decency and religious concepts. The new religion urged the buying and selling of goods. Yet, Chesterton noted that the Bible reported that God made the earth and creatures and saw that they were Good and not goods.

Chesterton also had harsh criticism for "modern" "philosophy." For example, Chesterton noted that the Free Thinkers did not believe in Free Thought at all. These men argued that Materialism, environment, genetics, etc. determined men's behavior and thought without any concession to Free Will or actual Reason. In other words, Free Thinkers tried to argue that man's freedom to think and reason was a moot point which undermined the phrase Free Thinkers. Those who enshrined Reason next to Revalation, the Catholic Scholastics and Schoolmen, were actually the Free Thinkers who used reason debate, clear thinking, logic/reason, etc. to come to philosophical and religious conclusions.

Chesterton had no sympathy for the "New Psychology" or to phrase it more accurately, "Psycho-Babble." Chesterton condemned psychics for their false claims of seances, levitation, etc. Yet, these same "experts" who claimed such nonsense as seances and levitation condemned Catholics for acception the Ascension. The spokesmen for the "New Psychology" condemned Catholic priests for administrating the sacraments. They condemned the Catholic Church for its priesthood. Yet, these "experts" created an Aristocratic Elite with false claims of ESP, seances, etc. which no Catholic priest would ever claim.

Possibly some of best essays in this book and in other books written by Chesterton dealt with the Reformation and Protestantism. Chesterton was right when he argued that there was not and is not any consistent Protestant theology or philosophy. In fact, readers should know that the Protestant "Reformers" hated each other as much if not more than they hated Catholics. For example, during the Marburg Colloquy in 1529, Martin Luther and Zwingli in effect wished each other a Happy Go to Hell when they parted company. For all the complaints of Protestants of Popish influence, King Henry VIII of England was more Popish in trying to set the agenda of the Church of England than any Pope could hope for.
Jacob Burchart mentioned that the Protestant rulers set the religious agenda in their domains because of the animosity of the Protestant "Reformers" had for each other, and these secular rulers had to have religious "peace and quiet" to have political stability.

One of the best essays in this book dealt with St. Thomas More whom King Henry VIII had executed. This essay is a good case study of a man, St. Thomas More, who respected political authority but did not worship it. In other words St. Thomas More rejected what can be defined as Stateolotry. St. Thomas More rejected the Divine Right of Kings and knew that only God was divine. Those who wanted a State Church wanted God to be controlled by the state when rulers should be ruled by God. St. Thomas More refused to waver on this issue which cost him his life.

As previous reviwers so aptly stated, this book is as timely now as it was when it was first published just before Chesterton died. Chesterton writing syle is charming and yet thoughtful. Chesterton enjoyed confronting his critics, but he was never spiteful or hateful. Chesterton was not offended when he was teased about his weight, forgetfullness, dress, etc. Chesterton was offended when truth was attacked. This is good book and should be read to have a better understanding of a confusing "modern" world.
Easier Reading Chesterton  Aug 25, 2008
I have only read a handful of Chesterton's books and loved them, but really struggled with them sometimes because of the complexity and depth. They also can be harder for us "modern Americans" whose history and literature breath is weak (at least for me on 100-year old British politics). But this is a clearly written set of individual essays that most anyone will get 90% of what is said and love it. There is less historical trivia names and events that make many people lose the point being made in several other of his great works (tested many times when I read a page or two out loud). These essays (only a few pages long each) will all put context and fire to conversation on today's politics and life. Then you remind yourself he was writing in 1935 before WWII! It is a little scary to see his predictions come true (or worst) in our present day. He understood what makes the world tick, in his day and ours.
The Thing and Other Things  Mar 24, 2007
The first I knew of Chesterton's so-called "Catholic" books (written after his conversion in 1922) was their mention in Dale Ahlquist's G.K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense. What he wrote made me hungry to read them, which I eventually did in Volume III of Ignatius Press' series of Chesterton's Collected Works. While it's great bringing all that GKC back into print, I'd much rather have the individual volumes, so I rejoiced when The Catholic Church and Conversion came out as a paperback. Like Orthodoxy, it's a lively book with a dull title.

The second volume to escape on its own is The Well and the Shallows, which is actually a collection of essays from 1935, but which boasts a lot better title. I'd recommend "The Backward Bolshie" to anyone reading the sort of things said about Chesterton these days by Garry Wills, whom I consider to be talking out of his hat. Other than that, these essays stand poised between looking back at the Victorian era and forward to the threat of Hitler, whom Chesterton was one of the first to denounce. Taken together with his 1936 autobiography, they cast an illuminating ray on the literary and political figures of the day.

In the introduction, Chesterton says he thought of calling the book Joking Apart. But then, he rightly noted, people would take it as a joke. The light essay, in Chesterton's form, is virtually lost today, but keeping it light enabled him to tackle the heaviest problems of the day. He is almost thinking out loud, and certainly writing on his feet, as the turbulent events of the mid- '30s move the world closer and closer to confrontation and the brink of war. As these essays reveal, the world of seventy years ago uncannily echoes our own, and the timing could not be better for this book.

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