Some lovers of wit rank G.K. Chesterton as one of the greatest aphorists. Here’s a GKC sampler. (To see Allen Barra’s Truthdig review of two new books on Chesterton, click here.)

• On seeing the lights of Broadway for the first time: What a glorious garden of wonders this would be, to anyone who is lucky enough to be unable to read.

book cover

G. K. Chesterton: A Biography

By Ian Ker

Oxford University Press, 688 pages

Buy the book

book cover

The Everyman Chesterton

By G.K. Chesterton (Author), Ian Ker (Editor, Introduction)

Everyman’s Library, 952 pages

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Man can be defined as an animal that makes dogmas.

• On Dickens: Did not write what the people wanted. Dickens wanted what the people wanted.

• On John Ruskin: He seemed to want all parts of the cathedral except the altar.

The architecture of New York chiefly consists of buildings being destroyed.

Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.

Even if art and poetry have no use, it does not follow that they have no value.

• On patriotism: “My country, right or wrong,” is a thing that no true patriot would think of saying. It is like saying, “My mother, drunk or sober.”

• On comparative religion: Students of popular science … are always insisting that Christianity and Buddhism are very much alike, especially Buddhism.

The next revolution is always perfect.

Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.

Science is a splendid thing; if you tell it where to go.

Take away the supernatural, and what remains is the unnatural.

We should thank God for beer and Burgundy by not drinking too much of them.

There is no sense in reasoning with the man who denies any validity to reason.

It has long been recognized that America was an asylum, but it is only since Prohibition that it has resembled a lunatic asylum.

• On arriving America, he was asked, “Are you in favor of subverting the government of the United States by force?” “I prefer,” he replied, “to answer that question at the end of my tour, not at the beginning.”

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