03 April 2014

The Flying Inn: Chesterton And Benson

I blogged a while ago about The Lord Of The World: courtesy of the same wonderful juxtaposition of e-readers, out of copyright books, and the willingness of volunteers to scan, I was able to spend a long, bright afternoon of the soul (aka a flight to the East Coast of the US) reading The Flying Inn by G K Chesterton.

I don't quite understand how I have missed this book so spectacularly.  When I downloaded it, and when I opened it to read it, I assumed that I was rereading rather than starting from scratch.  But a couple of paragraphs in, I realised that this wasn't the case and that I had never read it before.

And what a read it is.

Most of the poems in the book are well known, and happily celebrate drinking and drinkers (bear that in mind: Chesterton doesn't just simply praise alcohol, but rather the way he praises the way that alcohol and balanced happy people go so well together)r.  But that's not what the book is about.

It is about the way that the UK has been taken over by a coterie of driven people and the way in which that for reasons of idleness and venality on the part of the majority, they have been able to get away with it.  In the same way as The Lord Of The World looks at the whole question of the Church in the world, and its vulnerability, The Flying Inn looks at the way in which a small and determined groupuscle can turn the laws of England upside down, without most people really understanding what has happened, or how.

Whatever will or won't be decided about whether or not GKC should be canonised, this book, like R H Benson's, shines a light on much more than the England of their day.

1 comment:

Mike Cliffson said...

Read it these 50 years ago or more and found it too depressing , a bit more like Evelyn Waugh than Chesterton often is. Perhaps there was indeed something recognizably English about the English establishment making itself the enemy of all good in England. .St Gk Chesterton? Wafted in from Luton airport? There was a time when El Toboso provoked sneers , and what COULD one expect from Galileans, so there you are.