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What's Wrong With the World [Paperback]

By G. K. Chesterton (Author)
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Item description for What's Wrong With the World by G. K. Chesterton...

A most important book by Chesterton giving his remarkably perceptive analysis on social and moral issues, more relevant today than even in his own time. In his light and humorous style, yet deadly serious and philosophical, Chesterton comments on feminism and true womanhood, errors in education, the importance of the child, and other issues, using incisive arguments against the trendsetters' assaults on the common man and family. Chesterton possessed the genius to foresee the dangers if modernist proposals were implemented. He knew that lax moral standards would lead to the dehumanization of man, and in this book he staunchly defends the family, its constituent elements and character over against those ideas and institutions that would subvert it and thereby deliver man into the hands of the servile state. In addressing what is wrong, he also shows clearly what is right, sane and sensible and how to change things in that direction.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Ignatius Press
Pages   200
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.02" Width: 5.3" Height: 0.61"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 1994
Publisher   Ignatius Press
ISBN  0898704898  
ISBN13  9780898704891  
UPC  008987048985  

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More About G. K. Chesterton

G. K. Chesterton P. D. James is the bestselling author of many celebrated literary mystery novels. She served in the Police and Criminal Justice departments of Great Britain's Home Office, and in 1991 she was made a life peer as Baroness James of Holland Park. She lives in London and Oxford.

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. Dover Books on History, Political and Social Science
  6. Dover Books on Literature & Drama
  7. Dover Books on Western Philosophy
  8. Dover Thrift Editions
  9. Everyman Library
  10. Everyman's Library
  11. Father Brown Mysteries (Audio)
  12. Hendrickson Christian Classics
  13. Hendrickson Classic Biographies
  14. Hilarious Stories
  15. Image Classic
  16. Modern Library Classics (Paperback)
  17. Modern Spiritual Masters
  18. Moody Classics
  19. Paraclete Heritage Edition
  20. Penguin Classics
  21. Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Current Events > Poverty > Social Services & Welfare
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > History & Theory
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > General
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( C ) > Chesterton, G. K.

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

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Reviews - What do customers think about What's Wrong With the World?

Beyond my comprehension  May 24, 2008
Chesterton was undoubtably a genius. I am certain that this book has great value and meaning but I found it beyond my ability to dig it out. The language is full of idoms and references from late nineteenth and early twentieth century England which I could not comprehend without tremendous effort. I gave up on it. I suppose this is more of a reflexion of myself than Chesterton.
This Should Be The First Chesterton Book You Read  Apr 17, 2008
At least as far as the ones I have read (several).

Chesterton's short essays in this book can be read almost independently with much satisfaction. The world has changed a bit since the early 1900's but it is astonishing how prescient this work truly is. It might be hard for modern readers to realize how different the current issues of poverty are from those of his day and the forces that contribute to it are focused in different areas, but the fundamental analysis is impeccable.

What Chesterton does beyond all comparison is foundational thinking. His wit and paradoxical prose force the reader to consider problems from an entirely different perspective. In this sense Chesterton truly is a revolutionary conservative. When he asks if it is possible to "set back the clock" we suddenly discover that he is dead serious and that it is a very desirable thing to do.

All in all, this is a non-religious book and a good introduction to Chesterton's work. He keeps the sermons to an absolute minimum and makes an awful lot of sense.
What's wrong with the world? I am.  Jul 22, 2007
I think the collection of essays are generally well written, but there are some issues. Before I start, yes; I know WWWtW was written nearly 100 years ago for a primarily British audience. There are parallels with today's culture, but the book was written for quite a different population facing similar evils.

This may be petty, but the use of the "n" word really bothered me. I know Chesterton was a wordsmith, and was not a racist, but the use of that word really offended me. I know...different age and different culture, but I live in 21st century New York, not 20th century England. Is the use of the word meant to be offensive? I don't believe offense was Chesterton's motive. Chesterton even calls poor East Enders "guttersnipes", but this is his way of wordsmithing and even here the euphemism is not meant to be offensive, but clever. However, in spite of Chesterton's love of euphemisms and cleverness, I find the "n" word to be a huge stumbling block.

Chesterton's idea of the fundamental difference among the sexes is accurate. However, the whole objection to women not voting is rather unsettling. I know...different age and different culture, but it still bothers me. However, the notion of the Industrial and Post Industrial age forcing women into the workplace so that families can survive is an acute assessment.

What's not to like about Hudge and Gudge?

I think Chesterton is the Epitome of an age long since past. He chose not to pursue formal education, but the man was a generalist, and that suited him. There are too many specialists in the world, with large student loan debts, who cannot figure out why pulling on a push door will not open the door. If we had more Chestertons, I think the world would be a better place; there is always the need for generalists in a specialized world.
Great Edition  Apr 29, 2007
This is a wonderful edition of What's Wrong With the World. If you have read much of Chesterton's social commentary or essay work, you know that he makes many allusions to people, places, and ideas that were common to him in the early part of the 20th Century. Ignatius Press did a great job footnoting many of these references, which makes this amazing work of Chesterton's much more accessible to the common man, whom he loved so much.
'We shall certainly make fools of ourselves; that is what is meant by philosophy.'  Jan 9, 2006
'The only way to discuss the social evil is to get at once to the social ideal. We can all see the national madness; but what is national sanity? I have called this book "What Is Wrong with the World?" and the upshot of the title can be easily and clearly stated. What is wrong is that we do not ask what is right."
- from "The Medical Mistake", herein (Chesterton's chapter on the perils of trying to overextend biological metaphors in analyzing societies - not that he doesn't do it himself later)

Having bought this book, one of Chesterton's non-fictional works on what might be called philosophy (he himself refers to "modern social inquiry") some years ago, I had not read it properly until just recently, because every time I attempted to tackle it, I made the error of dipping into one of the sections detailing Chesterton's opinions on women's rights, then setting the book aside in frustrated annoyance.

Nevertheless, I have to recommend the book, though not offering any blanket endorsement of Chesterton's opinions as expressed in it. You may well ask why; I will show you rather than tell you.

'I originally called this book "What is Wrong," and it would have satisfied your sardonic temper to note the number of misunderstandings that arose from the use of the title. Many a mild lady visitor opened her eyes when I remarked casually, "I have been doing 'What is Wrong' all this morning." And one minister of religion moved quite sharply in his chair when I told him (as he understood it) that I had to run upstairs and do what was wrong, but should be down again in a minute. Exactly of what occult vice they silently accused me I cannot conjecture, but I know of what I accuse myself; and that is, of having written a very shapeless and inadequate book, and one quite unworthy to be dedicated to you. As far as literature goes, this book is what is wrong, and no mistake."
- from the author's dedication

However wrong-headed I consider some of Chesterton's opinions, how can I help but be disarmed by someone with a sense of humour like that, who can write like that?

More - even where I disagree with him, his arguments are worth reading, though I would not draw the same inferences he does, and itch to counter-argue where I think his initial assumptions have led him astray (not least by digging into some of my better books about what the Victorian era was *really* like underneath the gilded mythology that has grown up around it, both that current at the time and that in force now). Chesterton as a whole isn't simple to classify; someone who agrees with him on one subject may disagree on another, and he may start from a premise the reader disagrees with, follow it up with a logical fallacy or improperly drawn analogy, then jump into a pretty penetrating analysis (and the reverse situation also occurs, in which a weak analysis follows stronger groundwork). This man bears very careful reading.

To take one example, "The old hypocrite...was a man whose aims were really worldly and practical, while he pretended that they were religious. The new hypocrite is one whose aims are really religious, while he pretends that they are worldly and practical." Chesterton was a staunch Creationist, and could make rather disparaging remarks about science, while at the same time favouring open vigorous controversy and logical argument.

To place the book somewhat in context, when it was first published in June of 1910, Queen Victoria had died only nine years before, her son was in the last year of his reign, and women could attend university at Oxford and Cambridge but were not permitted to take degrees. This edition is annotated with footnotes for now-historical references that were current at the time of the book's original publication, mostly in the matter of the names of individual people and political parties; however, many of the footnotes are so terse that they only provide enough information for the reader to look up the information elsewhere (e.g. by providing someone's full name and birth/death dates, identifying them as a writer, then leaving the reader to find out what the writer wrote *about*, why Chesterton brought him up). The terseness of the footnotes has some charm - the editors thus avoid projecting onto Chesterton anything but what can be very impartially annotated.

The book is divided into five main sections: "The Homelessness of Man", "Imperialism, or the Mistake About Man", "Feminism, or the Mistake About Woman", "Education: Or the Mistake About the Child", and "The Home of Man" (not counting the author's notes at the end of the book). The first, third, and fourth sections take up three-quarters of the text, but there is some crossover between them, particularly on education and relationships between the sexes. Each section is broken up into several (4 - 14) chapters, so a much wider variety of topics are covered than may at first be apparent, ranging from science fiction to chivalry (in several senses).

Worth reading, even if you only want to disagree with an opponent with a considerable mastery of language. It's hard going in places, which I down less to philosophical disagreements between reader and writer but to the fact that he's operating from a cultural context that's just similar enough to the present day for the dissonance to be particularly severe when it crops up.

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