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Creator / G. K. Chesterton

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"He is so cheerful, one might almost believe he had found God."
Franz Kafka, Conversations with Kafka by Gustav Janouch

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936) was an English author and Catholic apologist in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Though best known for his Father Brown mysteries, he wrote prodigiously in a number of genres, both poetry and prose, fiction and non-fiction (the American Chesterton Society reckons that if you wanted to write as many essays as he did you'd have to write one every day for around eleven years).

Chesterton's writing is characterized by a vivid style, with much use of word-play and paradox, and by an often polemical though nearly always hugely good-natured tone. (Typically, he would mock his own large girth and heavy drinking.) Common themes in "GKC's" writing include the romance of everyday life, the superiority of traditional to modern ideals, and the dignity of the common man and ordinary pleasures such as smoking and drinking, especially as contrasted with the puritanical élites of either capitalist conservatives or socialist progressives (whose opposition to each other he considered largely a sham). His swashbuckling attitude toward life was exemplified as well in his personal appearance by the brigandly broad hat, cape, and sword-stick devised for him by his adored wife, Frances.

Unfortunately, Chesterton's writings also reveal him as something of an anti-Semite, although to what extent and in what contexts is hotly debated. As with many European intellectuals of his day, his distrust of the Jewish minority and their supposedly disproportionate influence on the continent—in particular, his repeated suggestion that they dress in distinctive 'Arab' clothing in order to stand out more clearly as 'foreigners'—reads as a lot less excusable post-Final Solution. On the other hand, he never believed in racial theory (to him religion, not race, was the primary defining factor), was vigorously denouncing the immorality of eugenics as far back as 1922— well ahead of the curve— with his book Eugenics and Other Evils among others, and he deeply disliked the race-baiting demagoguery of Adolf Hitler.note  He also had sympathies with the Zionist movement, arguing that the so-called "Jewish problem" would be solved if the Jewish people had their own nation. And he actually believed Jews as a group to be superior to Christians in many regards, recognizing that it was their oppression by the latter that drove them to commercial activities he deemed dishonorable. In short, it's not totally clear-cut.

Chesterton had a great influence on many writers, especially in the early twentieth century. He was for many years president of The Detection Club, an organization for writers of Mystery Fiction (the oath of which, devised by GKC, demanded that members write only Fair Play Whodunnits); such writers as Agatha Christie, Fr. Ronald Knox, and Dorothy L. Sayers were co-members. Chesterton's fellow Roman Catholics Hilaire Belloc (Chesterton and Belloc were collectively nicknamed the Chesterbelloc by Chesterton's "friendly enemy" George Bernard Shaw) and J. R. R. Tolkien were admirers, and GKC's apologetic writings (especially Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man) helped inspire C. S. Lewis to convert to Christianity.

Chesterton also wrote an influential biography of Charles Dickens, which is credited with rekindling popular and literary interest in that author at a time when his books had largely fallen out of fashion.

Chesterton has received many homages and pastiches in fiction. Golden Age mystery author John Dickson Carr was such a strong admirer that he modeled his most famous character, Dr. Gideon Fell, on Chesterton's appearance. More recently, Neil Gaiman modeled a character in The Sandman (1989) after him, got his inspiration for London Below from The Napoleon of Notting Hill (as he relates here), and Gaiman and Terry Pratchett dedicated Good Omens "To G.K. Chesterton: A Man Who Knew What Was Going On." He is also a star in the steampunk Christian series Young Chesterton Chronicles.

Works by G. K. Chesterton with their own trope pages include:

Other works by G. K. Chesterton provide examples of:

  • Above Good and Evil: The claim of the Communist in "The Unmentionable Man" (in The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond.)
  • Activist-Fundamentalist Antics / Think of the Children!: An excerpt from "How I Found the Superman", Daily News 1909
    The name of Lady Hypatia Smythe-Brown (now Lady Hypatia Hagg) will never be forgotten in the East End, where she did such splendid social work. Her constant cry of "Save the children!" referred to the cruel neglect of children's eyesight involved in allowing them to play with crudely painted toys. She quoted unanswerable statistics to prove that children allowed to look at violet and vermillion often suffered from failing eyesight in their extreme old age; and it was owing to her ceaseless crusade that the pestilence of the Monkey-on-the-Stick was almost swept from Hoxton.
    The devoted worker would tramp the streets untiringly, taking away the toys from all the poor children, who were often moved to tears by her kindness. Her good work was interrupted, partly by a new interest in the creed of Zoroaster, and partly by a savage blow from an umbrella. It was inflicted by a dissolute Irish apple-woman, who, on returning from some orgy to her ill-kept apartment, found Lady Hypatia in the bedroom taking down some oleograph, which, to say the least of it, could not really elevate the mind.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Chesterton loved this trope.
  • Anachronism Stew: Chesterton's play/squib The Temptation of St. Anthony (1925), based on the dramatic prose poem of the same name by Gustave Flaubert. The Life-Force, the Time-Spirit, and the Lecturer are modern men who confront St. Anthony, a hermit from the 3rd-4th centuries.
  • Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad: Aztecs and Carthaginians are portrayed this way in "The Everlasting Man". For example, Aztec statues are described as being made intentionally as ugly as possible, and both societies are claimed to have embraced human sacrifice not because they didn't realize it was horrifying, but precisely because they did.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Chesterton never said "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing—they believe in anything." It's an amalgamation of two quotes from the Father Brown stories: "It's the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense and can't see things as they are", from "The Oracle of the Dog", and "You all swore you were hard-shelled materialists; and as a matter of fact you were all balanced on the edge of belief - of belief in almost anything", from "The Miracle of Moon Crescent".
  • Bored with Insanity: Andrew Home in "The Conversion of an Anarchist".
    • As well as Gabriel Syme in The Man Who Was Thursday.
  • Calvinball: In his Autobiography, Chesterton describes how he and H. G. Wells started a running gag in their social circle:
    I also remember that it was we who invented the well-known and widespread national game of Gype. All sorts of variations and complications were invented in connection with Gype. There was Land Gype and Water Gype. I myself cut out and coloured pieces of cardboard of mysterious and significant shapes, the instruments of Table Gype; a game for the little ones. It was even duly settled what disease threatened the over-assiduous player; he tended to suffer from Gype's Ear. My friends and I introduced allusions to the fashionable sport in our articles; Bentley successfully passed one through the Daily News and I through some other paper. Everything was in order and going forward; except the game itself, which has not yet been invented.
  • Capitalism Is Bad: One of his core political beliefs. He argued that in a society which didn't tolerate depravity, there would be no millionaires.
    When I say "Capitalism," I commonly mean something that may be stated thus: "That economic condition in which there is a class of capitalists roughly recognizable and relatively small, in whose possession so much of the capital is concentrated as to necessitate a very large majority of the citizens serving those capitalists for a wage."The Outline of Sanity (1926)
    • That being said, he was not a fan of socialism or communism either; in fact, he saw capitalism and socialism as more alike than different in how they centralized economic power. He instead favored a system called distributism, which could be summarized as "everybody has enough property to work for themselves instead of someone else".
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: A character with red hair is almost always Good in Chesterton. Much less frequently, blond hair is evil — especially if the blondness looks somehow artificial ("gilded"). This may have something to do with the fact that Chesterton's beloved wife was a redhead. Some of the exceptions include:
    • Gabriel Gale, the protagonist of The Poet and the Lunatics, is blond.
    • The Man Who Was Thursday had it both ways: Gregory's sister is the symbol of all that is good, and Gregory, equally red-headed, is not good at all. Their red hair is seen as part and parcel to their respective goodness and evilness.
  • Confessional: Very common in GKC's works — The Surprise is one example.
  • Continuation: Chesterton's The Temptation of St. Anthony begins right after the events of Flaubert's work of the same name.
  • Corrupt Church: Chesterton was aware that the Christian faith had its share of bad Christians, and he makes this remark in his article "Superstition and Modern Justice", echoing Giovanni Boccaccio:
    "I do believe in Christianity, and my impression is that a system must be divine which has survived so much insane mismanagement."
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: A variant in The Napoleon Of Notting Hill. When unable to find any other source of red cloth to make the red and yellow colors of his now-conquered country, the ex-President of Nicaragua stabs himself and uses the blood to stain a handkerchief red.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Chesterton loved this. Many of his characters take "wise fool"-style radical behavior up to eleven.
  • Deadpan Snarker: During the First World War: "Mr. Chesterton, why aren't you out at the front?" "Madam, if you go around to the side, you will see that I am" (in reference to his weight). Many of Chesterton's characters share this trait.
  • Democracy Is Bad: Or at least have definite problems that raise the possibility of a return of monarchy.
  • Driver Faces Passenger: In the opening chapter of The Ball and the Cross, Professor Lucifer gets so absorbed in boasting to Brother Michael about the capabilities of his flying machine that he neglects to look where they're going, and nearly flies straight into St Paul's Cathedral.
  • Dry Crusader: Lord Ivywood, the antagonist of The Flying Inn, introduces a ban on selling alcohol, as part of his general admiration for Islam.
  • Duel to the Death: The Ball and the Cross.
  • The Ending Changes Everything:
    • His short poem The Donkey is clearly about how ridiculous and pathetic a creature the donkey is... until the last line completely overthrows all of the imagery from the rest of the poem.
    • In Chesterton's poem Lepanto, John of Austria's Historical Hero Upgrade seems to be played straight, until the last verses, where Chesterton talks about the other famous guy who was at the battle and the kind of book he wrote, seem to subvert the trope. You can also visit Battle of Lepanto and see the entry under Dude, Where's My Reward?:
    Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath
    (Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.)
    And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
    Up which a lean and foolish knight forever rides in vain,
    And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade....
    (But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)
  • Exact Words: The villain of The Flying Inn attempts several times to have the protagonists arrested, only for them to point out that what they are doing at that precise moment is not illegal — in one case, they're not allowed to sell alcohol, but the law doesn't prevent them giving it away.
  • Famous Last Words: "The issue now is clear. It is between light and darkness; and everyone must choose his side." He then added to his secretary Dorothy Collins, who had just entered the room, "Hello, my dear."
  • Fairy Tale: Often cited by GKC (as, for instance, the actors playing "Puss-in-Boots" in The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond), and occasionally authored by him — e.g., The Coloured Lands.
  • Fat and Skinny: Chesterton was fond of this trope (see Thomas Aquinas), and he and his friend Shaw embodied it...with Shaw as the skinny guy, of course.
  • Fertile Feet: In Tales of the Long Bow
  • The Final Temptation: In The Ball and the Cross, MacIan and Turnbull are each tempted with visions of the establishment of their respective Utopias.
  • Foreigner for a Day: In The Napoleon of Notting Hill, not only does Notting Hill secede, it then proceeds to conquer the rest of the British Empire.
  • Fun with Acronyms: In his younger days, he and some friends belonged to a society known as "I.D.K.". When anyone asked a member what I.D.K. stood for, he would reply solemnly "I Don't Know."
  • Gainax Ending: Most noticeably at the end of The Ball and the Cross and The Man Who was Thursday.
  • Gentleman Thief: Flambeau and "The Ecstatic Thief" in Four Faultless Felons are examples.
  • God: Is always lurking in the background in GKC's stories, and comes very near to the foreground in some. The Author in The Surprise is one (partial) example.
  • Golden Mean Fallacy: The Duke in Magic embodies this trope, in a parody of modern liberalism. His approach to disagreements between his friends is that everything must be true From a Certain Point of View.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: In The Napoleon of Notting Hill, King Auberon forces the representatives of various London districts to dress in mediæval-style robes and to be accompanied by heralds and halberdiers. Also, a plot point in "The Three Horsemen of Apocalypse" in The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: The plot of The Judgement of Dr. Johnson; the stories of the Club of Misunderstood Men in Four Faultless Felons — GKC was very fond of this trope.
  • Happily Married: Very common in Chesterton — no doubt reflecting his own happy marriage. There are, for instance, the Gahagans in The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond.
  • Happy Ending: In keeping with his basic theme of the essential goodness of life, Chesterton nearly always ends his works happily.
  • He Also Did: Depending on where you're standing, G.K. Chesterton, the famous detective story author, was also a Catholic apologist, or the great Catholic apologist G.K. Chesterton, also wrote Mystery Fiction. Oh, and he was also a literary critic, a poet, a journalist, and a bit of a cartoonist, as well.
    • He is also famous for "Chesterton's Fence," the philosophical notion that a person who wants to take down a fence because they can see no point in it being there should be prevented from doing so until they understand why it was put up in the first place, because without that understanding they're incapable of judging whether or not it should still be there.
  • Heaven Above: The Ball and the Cross has Professor Lucifer discuss the sky's divine association to a monk he kidnapped as he ascends through the heavens in his flying machine. The point Lucifer is making is that the skies are as physical and dour as the underworld and expects the monk's faith to shatter, only for the monk to point out that Lucifer's rambling has distracted him from flying the ship. The Professor screams like a girl and nearly dies in a crash.
  • Historical Domain Character:
  • Historical Hero Upgrade:
  • Hypocrite: Though there are many examples of the straight version of this trope in GKC (as, for instance, in "The Man Who Shot the Fox"), Chesterton is peculiarly fond of a particular subversion of it — the good man who pretends to be wicked. An outstanding example, in which this trope forms the whole theme of the book, is Four Faultless Felons.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: In "The Unmentionable Man," Mr. Pond's acquaintance Marcus, a minor French government employee, guesses that M. Louis must be a master blackmailer, since he saw an aristocratic woman beseech him late at night. Pond, in turn, surmises that M. Louis should be deported because he is a blackmailer...and yet cannot be deported, because he is a blackmailer (or rather, because of who he is blackmailing). Marcus snaps that the Prime Minister is an honest man, despite Mr. Pond saying nothing to the contrary. In short order, Marcus breaks down and admits that much of the government is corrupt, including, to his disgust, the Interior Minister, who's responsible for enforcing the laws in the first place.
  • The Infiltration: Rather subtly, "The Five of Swords."
  • Infraction Distraction: His Father Brown stories make use of this, most famously in "The Flying Stars."
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Happens in The Ball and the Cross
  • Last Kiss: John and Olive in The Return of Don Quixote.
  • Leonine Contract: A discussion of this trope is a crucial clue in one of the Paradoxes of Mr. Pond
  • Literalist Snarking: Chesterton once acquired a copy of Platitudes in the Making by a Holbrook Jackson and wrote his responses in green. One of his responses is as follows:
    Jackson: The future will look upon man as we look upon the ichthyosaurus—as an extinct monster.
    Chesterton: The "future" won't look upon anything. No eyes.
  • Love at First Sight: Manalive and many others.
  • Mad Mathematician: In "The Moderate Murderer" in Four Faultless Felons, Tom Traill's tutor, Hume, affects bizarre behaviour as a means to focus the underdeveloped boy's attention.
  • Magicians Are Wizards: The Counjurer in Magic.
  • Makeup Is Evil: In The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond, one character comments on how this trope is decreasing.
  • Meaningful Name: In The Flying Inn, there's a chemist named Crooke, who assists his customers in getting around prohibition legislation by selling alcohol as medicine.
  • Meaningful Rename: In The Return of Don Quixote.
  • Mind Screw: Some of his stories go into this territory, in particular The Man Who Was Thursday and the final chapter of The Ball and the Cross.
  • Morton's Fork: Although, in Manalive, the use of opposite arguments in favor of Innocent Smith's guilt are called "Heads I win, tails you lose" arguments, they are actually an example of this trope.
  • Mood Whiplash: The original The Temptation of St. Anthony by Gustave Flaubert is a serious depiction of spiritual torment, based on when St. Anthony faced severe temptations and demonic attacks in the Egyptian desert. Chesterton's "continuation" lightens the mood by introducing anachronistic characters representing modernity.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: In Heretics, the essay "On Mr. Rudyard Kipling and Making the World Small" begins by exploring this trope. The idea gets a whole book of essays to itself in Tremendous Trifles.
    The word "signal-box" is unpoetical. But the thing signal-box is not unpoetical; it is a place where men, in an agony of vigilance, light blood-red and sea-green fires to keep other men from death.
  • New Era Speech: Three contrasting ones by the same character in The Ball and the Cross.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In The Napoleon of Notting Hill, King Auberon is modeled on English author Max Beerbohm. Chesterton himself was later subject to this; his friend and opponent George Bernard Shaw caricatured him as "Immenso Champernoon" in an unproduced portion of Back to Methuselah. (Unproduced because he realized he could not do a better job of satirizing Chesterton than Chesterton himself.)
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Manalive.
  • One Scene, Two Monologues: In The Return of Don Quixote, Herne and Archer talk about the play Blondel the Troubadour. One is discussing his chances to show off in it; the other is discussing its philosophical underpinnings. Neither of them figures out that they are talking past each other.
  • Period Piece: A characater in The Return of Don Quixote perpetrates one of these:
His historical novel about Agincourt was quite good considered as a modern historical novel; that is, considered as the adventures of a modern public schoolboy at a fancy dress ball.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Innocent Smith from Manalive. Not.
  • Pull a Rabbit out of My Hat: In Magic Patricia Carleon imagines conjurors must be able to provide meals for themselves inexpensively by pulling rabbits out of their hats.
  • Real Dreams are Weirder: Analyzed in the essay "Dreams" as the reason many literary dream sequences don't ring true.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Pump delivers one to Lord Ivywood in The Flying Inn:
    A voice called out to him quietly from the other end of the tunnel. There was something touching and yet terrible about a voice so human coming out of that inhuman darkness. If Philip Ivywood had been really a poet, and not rather its opposite, an aesthete, he would have known that all the past and people of England were uttering their oracle out of the cavern. As it was, he only heard a publican wanted by the police.—Yet even he paused, and indeed seemed spellbound.
    "My lord, I would like a word. I learned my catechism and never was with the Radicals. I want you to look at what you've done to me. You've stolen a house that was mine as that one's yours. You've made me a dirty tramp, that was a man respected in church and market. Now you send me where I might have cells or the Cat. If I might make so bold, what do you suppose I think of you? Do you think because you go up to London and settle it with lords in Parliament and bring back a lot of papers and long words, that makes any difference to the man you do it to? By what I can see, you're just a bad and cruel master, like those God punished in the old days; like Squire Varney the weasels killed in Holy Wood. Well, parson always said one might shoot at robbers, and I want to tell your lordship," he ended respectfully, "that I have a gun."
  • Rescue Romance: Almost avoided in The Return of Don Quixote because Monkey feels it's taking advantage of it.
  • The Reveal: One of the bases of Mystery Fiction, of course, but common throughout GKC's work, even his non-fiction, as one of his fundamental themes. It comes clearly to the fore, for instance, in his posthumously published play, The Surprise.
  • Revealing Cover-Up: The conspiracy of "The Word" in "The Loyal Traitor" in Four Faultless Felons.
  • Rightful King Returns: The republic in The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond is in danger of this. In "The Unmentionable Man," there is, in fact, a king who hopes to return, and has enough popularity to do it, but it's implied that he may not be an earthly king.
  • Rock Beats Laser: In The Return of Don Quixote, mediaeval recreationists go out to arrest some people, with halberds rather than guns, and are scorned as foolish. They succeed.
  • Royal Blood: Royalty abounds in GKC's from his earliest to his latest works — and, oddly, for such a fan of the French Revolution, is very often treated with real sympathy, as in "The Unmentionable Man" in one of Chesterton's last books, The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond. (See also the next entry.)
  • Ruritania: "The Loyal Traitor," in Four Faultless Felons, takes place in the mythical Teutonic kingdom of Pavonia (specifically stated not to be in the Balkans while directly referencing Hope's novel). There are also two unnamed rival Balkan kingdoms in "The Tower of Treason." Ruritania is actually mentioned by name in The Everlasting Man.
  • Sitting on the Roof: A memorable scene in Manalive. When Innocent Smith climbs up, Michael Moon and Arthur Inglewood follow him to make sure he doesn't cause any trouble...and realize they're enjoying themselves.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The Ball and the Cross.
  • Spotting the Thread: In the first Father Brown story "The Blue Cross", Flambeau tries to convince Father Brown that he is a fellow Catholic priest, but then in conversation tries to argue for moral relativism. This is a running theme for G. K. Chesterton: other Father Brown stories have him catching impersonators out by ignorance of Anglican High Church/Low Church distinctions, or attacking reason as a supposed fellow Catholic priest. Also, The Man Who Was Thursday has an anarchist disguised as a bishop similarly give himself away by attacking reason, along with another impersonating a colonel acting in the manner of a comically stereotyped Blood Knight.
  • Subverted Trope: The Man Who Knew Too Much. A book of detective stories, in which the sleuth works out both whodunit — and why he will get away with it.
  • Suicide Is Shameful: He argued in his book Orthodoxy that suicide was exactly as wrong as the annihilation of the universe, since they're the same thing from the perspective of the one doing it. A suicide, he argues, has insulted every bird in the heavens and every leaf on the trees by declaring it unworthy of living for. Interestingly, there are hints in his works that he'd considered suicide himself in his pre-Christian days. He also provides the trope's page quote:
    "The man who kills a man kills a man. The man who kills himself kills all men. As far as he is concerned, he wipes out the world."
  • Stage Magician: The Conjurer in Magic
  • Still Wearing the Old Colors: In an early scene in The Napoleon of Notting Hill, the deposed president of Nicaragua goes to some trouble to wear the colours of his now-conquered country.
  • Sword Cane: Carried by GKC himself. He brainstormed by poking at the couch cushions in his office with it.
  • Take a Third Option: In a political sense. At a time when Capitalism and Socialism had become the two dominant creeds, Chesterton rejected bothNote . Instead, he became an advocate for a system called Distributism, which proposed wide-spread ownership of property and the means of production. It never really caught on.
  • Taking the Veil: In The Return of Don Quixote, Herne lampshades how Rosamund did not do this. Rosamund serenely explains that she had still hoped, and so didn't.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Commented on in the poem "Commercial Candour":
    "...For the front of the cover shows somebody shot
    And the back of the cover will tell you the plot."
  • Trouble Entendre: Subverted in "The White Pillars Murder."
  • Two Rights Make a Wrong: One of the Paradoxes of Mr Pond, "The Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse", concerns a field marshal whose soldiers were too eager to obey his orders, with the result that the orders were not carried out. If only one man had been that loyal it would have worked, but with two soldiers determined to fulfill his orders to execute a poet, the man ends up released.
  • Unaccustomed as I Am to Public Speaking...: Referenced in Magic — and, indeed, in nearly every context, GKC was fond of referencing his own debility. Did he not know?
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With George Bernard Shaw in Real Life.
    Chesterton: George, you look like you just came from a country in a famine!
    Shaw: G.K., you look like you caused it!
  • Warrior Poet: In The Ballad of the White Horse, there is not only Elf the minstrel ("whose hand was heavy on the sword, though light upon the string..."), but King Alfred himself.
  • Water Tower Down: In The Napoleon of Notting Hill, threatening to do this is how Wayne finally gets his enemies to surrender. Indeed, Chesterton described the use of the Waterworks as a weapon as part of the original inspiration.
    "In the event of your not doing so, the Lord High Provost of Notting Hill desires to announce that he has just captured the Waterworks Tower, just above you, on Campden Hill, and that within ten minutes from now, that is, on the reception through me of your refusal, he will open the great reservoir and flood the whole valley where you stand in thirty feet of water. God save King Auberon!"
    Buck had dropped his glass and sent a great splash of wine over the road.
    "But—but—" he said; and then by a last and splendid effort of his great sanity, looked the facts in the face.
    "We must surrender," he said. "You could do nothing against fifty thousand tons of water coming down a steep hill, ten minutes hence. We must surrender. Our four thousand men might as well be four. Vicisti Galilaee! Perkins, you may as well get me another glass of wine."
  • When Trees Attack: "The Trees of Pride"
  • Women Are Wiser: Mr. Isidore Green, in "The Ecstatic Thief" section of Four Faultless Felons, is rather woolly-headed about his affairs, and has to depend on his much more practical wife to take care of him. May be based on the author's own experience: he was absentminded, and apparently once telegraphed his wife while wandering around London, "Where am I supposed to be?" Her answer: "Home."
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian
  • Writer on Board: Common with GKC, as in The Ball and the Cross, when Father Michael (a Bulgarian monk) and Evan MacIan (a Scottish Highlander) both talk at times suspiciously like an English littérateur.
  • Ye Goode Olde Days: GKC was (and is) often accused of over-romanticizing the past, especially the Middle Ages, though he claimed he was merely correcting a falsely "progressive" view of history.
  • Zeerust: Deliberately averted in The Napoleon of Notting Hill, in which the future is the same as the 1904 present, only more so. This is justified in the foreword, wherein GKC explains a game people play, called "Cheat the Prophet", wherein they listen politely to what clever men say about what will happen in the future, wait until the clever men are dead, and then go and do something completely different. As the only thing that has not been guessed is that nothing will change, the people... don't. Except that Chesterton himself just got through predicting it — this probably also qualifies as a preemptive Lampshade Hanging on the impending obsolescence of his prediction, or alternately, that he was hoping they'd try to Cheat the Prophet and thus end up doing exactly what he wanted them to.