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Product details

  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (16 Jan 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 1438279787
  • ISBN-13: 978-1438279787
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15 x 0.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 250,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was one of the most influential English writers of the 20th century. His prolific and diverse output included journalism, philosophy, poetry, biography,Christian apologetics, fantasy and detective fiction. Chesterton has been called the "prince of paradox". Time magazine, in a review of a biography of Chesterton, observed of his writing style: "Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories-first carefully turning them inside out."For example, Chesterton wrote the following: Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it. Chesterton is well known for his reasoned apologetics and even those who disagree with him have recognized the universal appeal of such works as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. Chesterton, as a political thinker, cast aspersions on both liberalism and conservatism, saying: The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected. Chesterton routinely referred to himself as an "orthodox" Christian, and came to identify such a position with Catholicism more and more, eventually converting to Roman Catholicism. George Bernard Shaw, Chesterton's "friendly enemy" according to Time, said of him, "He was a man of colossal genius". --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard on 9 Oct 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Anything by Chesterton is bright, so I would recommend it to anyone who is willing to have his brain exercised. R O Connor
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Fred on 6 Dec 2014
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Amazon.com: 59 reviews
92 of 93 people found the following review helpful
A treasure from the past.... 15 Mar 2003
By jmk444 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
These forty-nine essays first appeared in June of 1910 and though some of the subjects may seem a bit stodgy, the writing is still fresh and riveting and the insights are clear and powerful.
In fact, some of the moral issues are perhaps more vital today than they were in Chesterton's time. He seemed to foresee that the diminution of our moral standards would lead to the dehumanization of mankind, he foresaw woman's suffrage and the dangers of the burgeoning corporate oligarchy.
All of these essays are memorable, touched with Chesterton's often dazzling verbal legerdemain. In "The Insane Necessity," he writes, "...discipline means that in certain frightfully rapid circumstances, one can trust anybody so long as he is not everybody." There are so many memorable more, like "Oppression by Optimism," "The Unfinished Temple" and "Sincerity and the Gallows" that are each in their turn, breathtaking in both their focus and scope.
If you've never read G K Chesterton, this is a fine place to start and if you've read some of his other works and enjoyed them, you'll love this one.
135 of 142 people found the following review helpful
Can It Get Any Worse? 30 Nov 2003
By Brad Shorr - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
One thing this book makes clear is that although the socio-political names change, the game remains the same. GK takes a hard look at what's wrong with England in 1910, and his diagnosis works just as well for America in 2003. GK rails against capitalism and socialism, for both philosophies are equally dehumanizing-capitalism excuses inhumanity as a cost of doing business; socialism seeks to redefine humanity by stripping away from us all that is human. Politicians, thinkers, and civic leaders on both ends of the spectrum flail away at social problems by attacking symptoms-poverty, homelessness, the role of women in society, disintegration of the family, unfruitful education-but consistently make the symptoms worse because they never see the underlying problem. What is the underlying problem? It is that our leaders no longer put the individual, which is human and therefore sacred, above the social organization, which is merely artificial and expendable. By dismissing the laws of God, we have nothing left but an anarchy of ideas. We have replaced one law of God with a thousand laws of social theory. GK shows how such an unfocused and confused approach has steadily worsened the plight of the poor, the family, the publicly educated man, etc., and predicts that Western social fabric will only unravel further, as long as we keep this up. Unfortunately for us, we have, and GK's predictions are correct.
76 of 79 people found the following review helpful
Written in 1910, applies to 2009 24 Oct 2009
By DWD's Reviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
G.K. Chesterton's "What's Wrong With the World" is not a bit of light reading. There are heady thoughts throughout and the reader is invited to do some of the heavy lifting as well. I don't agree with all of Chesterton's conclusions either but he does have a wonderful way with words. Have you ever had an argument with someone in which you thoroughly disagreed with some of their points but admired the way they laid them out and their turns of the phrase? That is my experience with G.K. Chesterton in a nutshell.

I only picked up this volume because I read somewhere that C.S. Lewis was a devoted fan of Chesterton.

Be prepared, there is no one thing that is wrong with the world - it is a collection of things. Of course, any thinking person knows that there are always a collection of problems that are inter-related and cause all sorts of things to be wrong in the world.

Chesterton is strongly pro-Catholic church so be prepared that one of the things wrong with the world is that the world is not Catholic. Being a Lutheran myself, I smiled and moved on. Women working outside of the home is a problem Chesterton identifies as well. Not because women are inferior (he reveres the housewife and acknowledges it is draining) but because the home is a special place if well-tended by an extraordinary women - a place where the family can actually be free of the demands of society and work. Plus, a homemaker is, by the very nature of the job, a skilled amateur that knows a little about "a hundred trades." Homemakers are not specialized and that is good in Chesterton's eyes.

Why is specialization a problem? People become experts in just one thing and don't learn about the rest of the world. Think of our modern college system. Someone can get an MBA in business but never have taken an art class. Doctorates of art in all likelihood have never taken an econ class. Are those people well educated?

Probably his biggest thing that is wrong with the world is its habit of "altering the human soul to fit its conditions, instead of altering human conditions to fit the human soul." In other words, we conform to the arbitrary demands of society rather than making sure that society conforms to the needs of the human soul.

Tired of the "Think of the Children" mantra? So was Chesterton 100 years ago: "There has arisen...a foolish and wicked try typical of the confusion. I mean the cry, "Save the children." It is, of course, part of that modern morbidity that insists on treating the state (which is the home of man) as a sort of desperate expedient in time of panic. This terrified opportunism is also the origin of the Socialist and other schemes."

Chesterton also has several comments on education that to this 20 year veteran teacher sound grumpy, fuddy-duddy and exactly 100% right.
72 of 76 people found the following review helpful
Delightful, as one can expect from Chesterton 23 Nov 1999
By Fred Shultz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is a dandy -- a little social commentary full of Chesterton's ever-so-fun-and-clever humor and incredible way of making you realize that the ways in which we humans think is often the exact opposite of what we ought to think. The content is, I suppose, a bit dated... it is intended for the turn-of-the-century (the last turn, not this one) English reader; as such, issues such as women's suffrage might appear to be entirely culturally irrelevant. If read in its historical context, however, it can function both as a history lesson and poignant (in its time) social commentary. And, needless to say, as with all truly good observations about something in the past, there is a good deal which is extremely pertinent to the current social condition... even in those things that might appear outmoded. A good read.
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
'We shall certainly make fools of ourselves; that is what is meant by philosophy.' 8 Jan 2006
By Michele L. Worley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
'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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