Saturday, December 31, 2005

Hear the Voice of the Great G.K. Chesterton / 157 New GKC Links and 11 Photos Added

This was a first for me. What a thrill!

The first audio portion (many thanks to John Cruickshank for putting this together) comes from a ceremony at Holy Cross College, Worcester, Mass. in December 1930. GKC's "thanks" were preceded by the words:

"Mr. Chesterton, since you are one of the foremost crusaders in the modern world of letters, we wish to adopt you into the humble ranks of the Holy Cross Crusaders."

To hear all the audio files below, click on the links for "GKC audio" or "audio" on the web pages linked to below.

Listen to audio wav. clip.

Another series of audio files come from a 1933 broadcast on the BBC (concerning architecture). It is spread over 18 sound files of 30 seconds each:

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
Part Nine
Part Ten
Part Eleven
Part Twelve
Part Thirteen
Part Fourteen
Part Fifteen
Part Sixteen
Part Seventeen
Part Eighteen

Here is the complete text:

Architecture is the most practical and the most dangerous of the arts. All the other arts we have to live with. They are things we have to live with and some have even said, with regard to some kinds of music and painting, that they are things they could live without. But architecture is not a thing only that we have to live with - it is a thing we have to live in. We live with it as Jonah lived with the whale. Jonah could not see the monster and there is a great deal to be said for living in the most hideous house you can see in the landscape. That is the one place where you will be unable to see it.

I have before me two or three very interesting books dealing with architecture. The first impression made by all these books is that architecture is at this moment in a very queer condition - much queerer than at any other period. We all know this in a way about what men call practical architecture, especially domestic architecture.

Now in the past there has been broadly two main social systems - slavery and a rough peasant equality. Most men's houses, or huts or what not, have either been made by themselves, because they had timber or clay or what was needed, or they have been made by their masters for them. The Eskimo made his own house of snow and the Irish peasant generally made his own cabin of mud or peat, which was the real root of his sense of the injustice of landlordism. On the other hand, Uncle Tom's cabin was presumably built for Uncle Tom, and most English cottages were built by squires . . . and testify to their traditionalism, their carelessness, and their natural instinct for the picturesque.

But with the growth of modern towns and the reign of specialists, a very strange situation has arisen. For most people, the houses exist before the householder. Those rows of new villas in the suburbs are built for anybody - that is, nobody. Willam Morris, thinking of rabbit hutches, called them man hutches. But they really wait, more like man traps. They wait for the man who shall come or not, as the case may be. Only, in the case of the wealthy, the householder exists before the house. The rich man has to kick his heels in hotels and horrid places while an architect is building his house.

Now the speculative builders do not know what people would really like. So they build all the houses exactly the same, in a style that nobody could like very much . . . so as to be fair all round. In the second case the millionaire can of course tell the architect what sort of house he would like. The architect listens sympathetically and then goes away and designs something totally different, which the millionaire is obliged to accept because he is afraid of people suggesting that he knows nothing about art . . . which is indeed the case.

In both these cases, you will note, a specialist does exactly what he likes. There is nothing to show that suburban people really like suburban villas. Indeed I strongly suspect that most of the satire against suburban villas is written in surburban villas. There is nothing to show that Mr. __, who made his money in pork, likes the aerial perspective of the new architectural style of steel and glass. And he poor devil, is a more miserable captive than the other, for he cannot write in the papers abusing the ugliness of his own house. And the suburban class can.

Now all this is to say what most of these books largely agree in saying - that there is not any modern style that is popular in the sense that most people like to look at it - let alone that most people would naturally try to build it. A very sensible and well-balanced book, called How To Look At Buildings - by Darcy Braddell -Methuen/6 shillings -makes this point all the more pointedly because it is not in any sense a controversial book.

It does not profess to go so deep, for example, as another and larger volume called Purpose And Admiration by J. Barton -Christophers/10 & 6 - of which I shall speak in a moment. But the smaller handbook makes this point very clear, for example by a comparison with the 18th century. The 18th century was ruled throughout by the classical style and as we shall see when we come to consider Pugin and Ruskin, many held rightly that this classicism was narrow and cold. But even its narrowness was broad in the sense that it was as broad as the whole people. As Mr. Braddell writes -"In the 18th century all were agreed that as far as they were concerned, classic architecture was vastly superior to what seemed to them the rude barbarities of Tudor and Jacobean architecture."

Today we have none of that. Today that is, we have things that few people admire and we have things that a lot of people put up with. But we have not anything that can be called the taste of the age, which in the 18th century would make a banker and a bankclerk and a crossing sweeper and even a poor wretched artist or architect agree that the old Bank of England was a suitable and elegant direction.

I also ran across a third audio file; this time Chesterton reciting part of his own poem: The Ballad of the White Horse: "The Woman in the Forest" from Book IV. See this web page for links to wav. or ram. files and the text.


For more information on Chesterton, click on his caricature over on the top right of my sidebar to access my web page: G.K. Chesterton: "The Colossal Genius". I have removed the bad links, and have now added no less than 157 new ones (a long-overdue project). That makes my GKC page without question (and by far) the most extensive listing of GKC links on the Internet. I believe it already was; now it is even more so. Some folks might consider my saying that "bragging." For me it is simply expressing, in effect, "hey guys; if you want all the links to Chesterton you can find in one place (because you love his work as I do), my page is where you can do that and save yourself a lot of trouble and time looking around." As that wise sage Dizzy Dean once said, "it ain't braggin' if ya can do it."

I have also uploaded five additional photographs to that page. If you type "G.K. Chesterton" into the Google search engine, it comes up sixth. But that tells you nothing about how many links are present (mostly it counts the instances of the word "Chesterton," I believe). Secondly, I have added three photographs to my G.K. Chesterton: Photograph and Portrait Page. The three which appear on this present post are also new to my blog / website.

Links pages have been an emphasis of mine ever since my website commenced in March 1997 (my Cardinal Newman and C.S. Lewis pages are also in a "Top Ten Google" category similar to my GKC page, as are my Malcolm Muggeridge and Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. pages). Links compilations are a bit less important now, with better search capabilities, than in 1997 (when Yahoo was still the cutting-edge for searches and Google was unheard-of), but still useful and helpful for those wishing to quickly access a lot of information on a specific topic (or person, as the case may be). In effect, the compiler of the links can potentially save researchers or casual surfers with an interest or curiosity in something much time and effort. And that is one part of my role as an apologist: a service I am providing for Catholics (and in this case, anyone interested in great literature and theology and apologetics).

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