The Everlasting Man Paperback – Feb 8 2008
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What--if anything--is it that makes the human uniquely human? This, in part, is the question that G.K. Chesterton starts with in this classic exploration of human history. Responding to the evolutionary materialism of his contemporary (and antagonist) H.G. Wells, Chesterton in this work affirms human uniqueness and the unique message of the Christian faith. Writing in a time when social Darwinism was rampant, Chesterton instead argued that the idea that society has been steadily progressing from a state of primitivism and barbarity towards "civilization" is simply and flatly inaccurate. "Barbarism and civilization were not successive stages in the progress of the world", he affirms, with arguments drawn from the histories of both Egypt and Babylon.
As always with Chesterton, there is in this analysis something (as he said of Blake) "very plain and emphatic". He sees in Christianity a rare blending of philosophy and mythology, or reason and story, which satisfies both the mind and the heart. On both levels it rings true. As he puts it, "in answer to the historical query of why it was accepted, and is accepted, I answer for millions of others in my reply; because it fits the lock; because it is like life". Here, as so often in Chesterton, we sense a lived, awakened faith. All that he himself writes derives from a keen intellect guided by the heart's own knowledge. --Doug Thorpe --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Gilbert Keith Chesterton was born in London, England, in 1874. He went on to study art at the Slade School, and literature at University College in London. Chesterton wrote a great deal of poetry, as well as works of social and literary criticism. Among his most notable books are "The Man Who Was Thursday", a metaphysical thriller, and "The Everlasting Man", a history of humankind's spiritual progress. After Chesterton converted to Catholicism in 1922, he wrote mainly on religious topics such as "Orthodoxy" and "Heretics". Chesterton is most known for creating the famous priest-detective character Father Brown, who first appeared in "The Innocence of Father Brown". Chesterton died in 1936 at the age of 62.
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Top Customer Reviews
The Everlasting Man demands to be annotated. Chesterton's prose is masterful, his wit and sarcasm are triumphant, but most fundamentally, his arguments are pointed and illuminating.
Chesterton provides a method and a practical goal. His method is to examine preconceptions by going out of context; to picture our reality as if we were strangers. The goal is to compare the secularist, religious, and dogmatic views of man with this external picture.
His conclusion is in the recognition of Christ as The Distinguishing Event which bears no contrast or comparison with history before or since. Along the way, he dices up comparitive religion, takes a poke or two at Spencer & Darwin, relegates Islam to a heresy (albeit a "respectable heresy") and thoroughly demolishes the concept of secularist rationality.
Among the more profound of Chesterton's recognitions is in the strange continuity of the Church. A little apologetics is involved, but I get the impression that his discussions are intended more for comfort to the faithful than butressing his already-established arguments.
Overall, a thoroughly engaging read. My only negative criticism of the book is the dexterity of Chesterton's references and citations. I probably missed more of his allusions than I caught. In some ways, it reminds me of Swift's Gulliver's Travels - we all get the "Big end/Little end" allusion to Protestant/Catholicism conflict, and the ancillary references to France/England, etc. But only by reading thorough criticism do we find that Swift was referring not only to massive social events, but also to specific individuals and practices.Read more ›
The book was written in 1925, so even though some of his arguments would require a bit of a fix to fit current scientific theory (like his defence against Darwinism), there is so much of the book that feels surprisingly current.
I do wish I had bought some kind of annotated edition since there are a lot (A LOT) of references to different cultures, religion, historical events, etc.
This is most likely the cheapest edition one could buy. I recommend buying another one since it's a book that you may want to go back to.
Most recent customer reviews
Began reading Chesterton last year and have found that his writing is brilliant and clear and reads as if he was writing for the start of this century and not the start of the... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Eugen
First, let me start by saying that this book is essential reading and that, from all Chesterton's work, I would only put it behind his Orthodoxy, the two of which, together with... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Tom Jones
“The Everlasting Man” is history, philosophy and theology interwoven to tell the story of how Christianity is a unique religion one that has guided man from his pre-Christian state... Read morePublished 19 months ago by James Gallen
Horrible version of a wonderful book. So disappointed. Text was poorly placed on the page making the book impossible to read. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Lindsay Cey
Great history and perspective of Christianity in history.
Christians and non-Christians alike will enjoy this history of man, I certainly did.
Really great book, but don't buy the paperback edition published by Wilder. It appears to have been produced using character recognition with zero editing. Read morePublished on July 18 2014 by S SMITH
I like much of his stuff but having Mary instead of Jesus as your daily person of contemplation is Idolatry as described in scripture.Published on April 11 2014 by Ronald Joseph Lorette
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