Chesterton wrote during the height of the eugenics movements in the early twentieth century. This volume counters the intellectual nihilism of Nietzsche, while simultaneously rebuking Western notions of progress—biological or otherwise. Chesterton expands his criticism of eugenics into what he calls “a more general criticism of the modern craze for scientific officialism and strict social organization.”
G. K. Chesterton was born in London in 1874. He worked at the Redway and T. Fisher Unwin publishing house until 1902, when he began writing regularly—his weekly columns appeared for decades in the Daily News and The Illustrated London News. In all, he wrote more than 80 books, hundreds of poems, 200 short stories, 4,000 essays. Among his writings are his famous apologetic work Orthodoxy, a biography of St. Aquinas, his Father Brown detective stories, The Napoleon of Notting Hill, and The Man Who Was Thursday. He died on June 14, 1936 in Buckinghamshire.
“The wisest thing in the world is to cry out before you are hurt. It is no good to cry out after you are hurt; especially after you are mortally hurt. People talk about the impatience of the populace; but sound historians know that most tyrannies have been possible because men moved too late. It is often essential to resist a tyranny before it exists. It is no answer to say, with a distant optimism, that the scheme is only in the air. A blow from a hatchet can only be parried while it is in the air.” (Page 3)
“I had thought of calling the next sort of superficial people the Idealists; but I think this implies a humility towards impersonal good they hardly show; so I call them the Autocrats.” (Page 15)
“The act of founding the family, I repeat, was an individual adventure outside the frontiers of the State” (Page 10)
“Plato was only a Bernard Shaw who unfortunately made his jokes in Greek” (Page 10)
“For the fairy tales knew what the modern mystics don’t—that one should not let loose either the supernatural or the natural.” (Page 30)