The Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - January 3, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
Thursday, January 3.1t74 THE LETHMIDOI HERALD Book review Chesterton influence still felt Hidden meanings "G. K. Chesterton" by Dudley Parker (Coastable, 80 pages, distributed by Longman Canada When Maisie Ward, the biographer of G. K Chester- ton replied to critics of her first massive volume on the great man in the intro- duction to her second volume Return to Ches- terton, she distinguished two types of biography by comparing Forster's Life of Dickens with Chesterton's book on Dickens. The first was good, second-class biography; the second was in- spired interpretation. She ex- pressed the idea that "the genius may later arise who takes my biography as Chesterton took Forster as a basis for those inspired guesses at truth which go much deeper than the most careful research." A new book on Chesterton by Dudley Barker, a man of letters and working journalist who knows London and Fleet Street well, and who obviously regards his subject with affec- tionate admiration, is not by any means the sort of book Maisie Ward envisioned. Nor is it analogous to Edgar John- son's book on Dickens, a work -which is commonly acknowledged to be a happy blend of biography and luminous criticism, if not quite the fruit of genius. Barker's book is, at first, difficult to judge. For an ar- dent Chestertonian almost any well-written book on Chesterton is welcome, es- pecially one which approaches its subject with sufficient breadth, for G. K. Chesterton was a very versatile writer. On the other hand, one's judgment may be soured by the recognition that this new book, though well-timed for the centenary of Chesterton's birth in 1974, repeats much of what has already been presented in Ward's two volumes. It is difficult for a biographer (and the book is subtitled a biography) to add much detail to the carefully researched work of Maisie Ward. However, Barber's book is still a very pleasing one. It brings much of-the detail into perspective, portrays the man and the writer vividly and sen- sitively, and provides the sharp, concrete, anecdotal outlines which bring Chesterton to life for the com- mon reader in 1973. The beautiful portrait in oils, ex- ecuted by James Gunn, a fron- tispiece study of Maurice Baring, Hilaire Belloc and G. K. Chesterton engaged in literary fun around a small table, sets the tone of the book. Barker portrays Chesterton with light and shade, with warmth and care, and with a fine sense of at- mosphere. Here is G.K. sprung to life again, viewed in action; talking heartily, lost in absent-minded con- templation, labouring away on books and articles, meeting deadlines, helping others with immense generosity, reading with gusto, and 1 a life dedicated to the cause of truth and justice. We get a keen awareness of just how the busy writer went to work, of the struggle to earn a competent living by the pen in the London of the early part of this century. Contrary to a fairly common sup- position, Chesterton was not too careless or lazy to make his non-fiction books works of meticulous scholarship. He was simply too busy, editing journals like the New Witness and G. K.'s Weekly, (profitless in terms of money, quixotic in their missionary- keeping promises made to editors, devoting himself to affairs like the Distributist League, to give himself to a life of scholarship or exclusively to the writing of monumental studies. Chesterton had an immense output; fiction, poetry, in- numerable essays and ar- ticles, and many books of lasting value. And, as Barker shows, whatever the inac- curacy in detail1, from the first his studies of writers like Dickens and Browning and Stevenson, his works of historical, philosophical and religious themes, like Orthodoxy, The Everlasting Man, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thomas Aquinas had a profun- dity -of insight that scholars too often lack. Chesterton was a great reader, but he had the capaci- ty to get to the heart of a great many books in so short a time, and his synthesising power and originality of thought shed new light on everything he touched. It was typical of Chesterton who always regarded himself as a jour- nalist, that, when offered the Chair of English at the University of Birmingham, he, declined. In traditional fashion, this biography traces Chesterton's life from his earliest in- fluences and his life at home through his courtship and marriage, his domestic and public life. In doing so, it shows the interweaving of threads with a consummate skill. Certainly, it reveals that, if many people live a double life, Chesterton was not one of them. Chivalrous at all times, capable of joy and wonder, filled with an ardent affirma- tion of life, G.K.'s personality was as influential in rela- tionship' to his work as a writer as that of Dr. Johnson. His sense of gratitute for life was legendary, and his gratitude was also shown in practical every day affairs, as, for instance, in his con- tinuing to write essays for the Illustrated London News for 31 years for the same, original payment of seven pounds, simply because the editor had given him the assignment when he badly needed the regular income as a young married man. He was the despair of G. B. Shaw who often admonished his oppo- nent and friend for not getting his money's worth. Chesterton was not only hopeless in business affairs; he was devoted to a cause. He gave himself to the New Witness and G.K.'s Weekly, especially after the death of his brother in the mud of Flanders, because he wanted to keep alive the sanity of what, was then, called dis- tributism, a social philosophy The Letkbridge Herald think PART IV PICTURE QUIZ 5 POINTS He is an Austrian citizen well-known around the world. Who is he? HOW DO YOU RATE? to 100 SCONCI SI M SO ftum CmBint. 71 M SO Good. SI M 70 print Frir. or Unrtti? T tfmm' FAMILY DISCUSSION QUESTION What do you think were the three top news devel- opments in 1973? YOUR NEWS QUIZ PART I NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL Give yourself 10 points for each correct answer. 1 Canada sent truce observers to Viet Nam shortly after the peace agreement was signed (CHOOSE ONE: January, May) 27th. 2 War broke out in the Mideast on Yom Kippur, the most Important (CHOOSE ONE: Jewish, Muslim) holy day. 3 Pierre Trudeau became the first Canadian Prime Minister to visit the People's Republic of China, where he met with the nation's lead- ers, Including Premier a-Lln Piao b-Chou En-lai c-Chlang Kai-shek 4 The New Democratic Party threw Its support to the Liberals and helped defeat a Progressive Conservative non-confidence motion concern- Ing federal energy policies. Name the national NDP and Progressive Conservative leaders. 5 A named Kohoutek came Into the news. a-comet b-Canadlan communications satellite c-Soviet space station PART II WORDS IN THE NEWS Take 4 points for each word that you can match with its correct meaning. a-North Atlantic food fish b-death penalty c-eaelng of strained relations el-sudden overthrow of a government e-formally charge with a crime 1.....detente 2.....Indict 3.....coup 4.....cod 5.....capital punishment PART III NAMES IN THE NEWS Take 5 points for names that you can correctly match with the clues. a-head of Food Prices Review Board 1 ....Ken Dryden 2.....Beryl Plumptre 3.....Gerald Ford 4.....Salvador Allende 5.....W. L. Higgltt 1231-73 to-overthrown President of Chile c-retiring RCMP Com- missioner d-f o r m e r Montreal Canadiens goalie e-new U.S. Vice Pres- ident STUDENTS Save This Practice Examination! Valuable Reference Material for Exams. ANSWERS ON REVERSE PAGE which taught that the family, the small farm and business, the small community should be cherished rather than swept away by capitalist or state power. It is curious that neither Hollis or Barker sees the con- nection between distributism and what Hollis calls "the revolt against the imper- sonality of the gigantic units whether in industry, politics or education." For the widespread ownership of property which Belloc and Chesterton advocated is close- ly bound up with the need for decentralism. And it was, after all Chesterton's book The Napoleon of Netting Hill which inspired Michael Collins and other Irish revolutionaries to fight for the right to their own, autonomous community. The Chester-Belloc social philosophy may turn out to be more than worth the time and energy G.K. devoted to it. Etienne Gilson, the French Thomist philosopher once said of Chesterton's book on St. Thomas Aquinas that, after 30 years of study devoted to Thomism, he could never have written a book so profound. How did a struggl- ing journalist, pouring out such a varied and vast array of books and articles, wrue such a book? His mind seems attuned to truth; he was one of the great institutional men of our time. Although Chesterton regarded his work as simply something he liked doing and which he had published for a living, as something of lasting value, it is clear from Barker's book that his work will live on. Some of his essays (he was one of the supreme his allegorical fiction, his massive works which il- luminate every area of life, his great ballads, are enduring both for their thought and their style. But above all, Chesterton lives on because of the spirit of his life, a spirit of humility and joy, of affirmation of life which pervades everything he ,wrote, not as a false and facile optimism, but as a great art of faith. PETER HUNT Books in brief "Good clean violence: A history cf College Football" by Ivan N. Kaye (Little, Brown and Company, 288 Plain curiosity and the desire to educate myself about a sport that such a large segment of population spends so much time watching made me order this book. The book covers 103 years of history of college plays and players, great teams and es- pecially the coaches who made it all happen. The all- time games are analysed and the technique, formation and organizational details of the coaches described. The author defends the strange violent game of foot- ball in the epilogue and claims that it mingles the elements of chess, geometry and warfare. He justifies football through the existence of the multi- ethnic team because on rare occasions, for a few precious moments the ethnic hatreds have been transcended. Nice words, but somehow I feel that the secrets of this game have eluded me again. GERTA PATSON "The Sand Country of Aldo Leopold" edited by Anthony Wolff (Sierra Club, 96 pages, distributed by Clarke, Irwin and Company Those not familiar with the writings of Aldo Leopold, a kind of pioneer in the ecology movement, would be well ad- vised to turn first in this book to the section of photographs by Charles Steinhacker with accompanying selections from Leopold's writings. The charm of these snippets, enhanced by the photographic interpretations in color, will make the reader want to know more about Leopold. A long essay by Susan Flader at the beginning provides much information about the man and the piece of farmland he owned and wrote about in central Wisconsin. I think a better publishing ven- ture would have been to bring out a new edition of Leopold's Sand Country Almanac with an introductory essay and interspersed with Stein- hacker's photographs, but this is a book which will be eagerly sought by any who already treasure the Almanac. DOUG WALKER Commumc 't tr is a system carefully placed words insulated with understanding, oes not merely happen: Photo and text by David Bly Herald reporter The homework caper By Louis Burke In our schools nothing is more of a caper than homework even though it seems to be part of built-in educational tradition. One might go so far as to call it an educational Homework is a blanket covering many evils, yt most people see it as a blessing. First of aU students abuse homework. They complain about it, but those who enjoy the "playway" during class time know they can make up the work at home. They fool around, distract others and have a ball knowing they have the old escape hatch, "homework." For- tunately such students are not too many. Worse than any student is the teacher preacher, or the preacher-teacher. He has much more to answer for in the homework caper. This educator talks endlessly. He or she is hypnotized by the sound of the voice and the fine flow of words, resulting in a grand waste of precious time which ought to have been given to more practice 'and less preaching. Mountains of homework are piled on students to ensure the curriculum is covered somehow. Homework is an invasion of home time and family life. In a computer age, it is hardly necessary at all. Information banks regurgitate oceans of knowledge instantly at the mere press of a button. No amount of homework can equip a young person to com- pete with stored information and banked memories in electronic forms. It only con- sumes vast quantities of precious time. Young people have a dozen other kinds of education to catch up with after school hours. Too few have the opportunity to apply themselves to music and the learning of an instrument. The fine arts painting, pottery and the rest which cannot be fitted into a daily school schedule are neglected because homework leaves no time for learning these. This does not mention all the education to be gained in social and church work, drama and outdoor education, and many other forms of essential education neglected because school homework stands in the way. Parents, above all, abuse homework. More than any group they use it as a "cop-out" caper. They like their young people to have lots of it and often complain to principals if teachers lighten the load. It keeps the youngsters busy and off the streets, they say. What parents really mean is that homework keeps the screws on the kids. It is the big stick. It relieves them of many moral obligations such as child control, family interaction and planning sessions to explore society and life together. They, generally, consider a mountain of homework to be less evil than time spent watching television. In fact, too many parents are mere biological accidents in the birth and upbring- ing of their young. They forget, or never knew there is such a thing as cultural parenthood, social parenthood and many other kinds of parenthood in addition to biological parenthood. There is much more to education than a heap of homework provided by preacher teachers who are backed up by dropout parents. School homework conveniently eats up oceans of time needed to produce a proper person. It is the great educational cop-out blessed by almost all. Back-yard birding By Helen Schuler, local writer In early fall months, and in the springtime, the activity in the garden from the fall and spring migrants is a challenge and a fascination. Recently in a meeting notice to Lethbridge Naturalist Society, I listed some of the birds who had visited our yard during September. A member of the group promptly identified me as the writer simply by my reference to my buggy yard, and my own ad- mission to being a lazy and disorganized gar- dener. I can only assume that my reputation as a gardener must be approaching that of one notorious Lethbridgeite as a builder of fences. This particular member was interested in how we attracted so many birds. He said he never had anything like that in his garden even though he had planted berry bearing trees etc. My reaction was that he likely has them but he's not there to see them. Like other members of the unliberated sex, he has to go forth into the world of work each day instead of being free to stay home and enjoy all the activity in his own yard. Birds seek out areas for specific reasons. They need food, water, shelter and protective cover. A good start is to install a bird bath. One kind soul in town takes out a kettle of hot water''each morning for his boarders. Ap- parently they line up in vociferous an- ticipation; waiting for him. This same per- son, bless him, painstakingly hung on his tree some leftover canned crabapples, in addition to keeping a well stocked feeder for the seed-eaters. Needless to say, they have loads of birds in their yard in winter. Our unsprayed trees harbor all sorts of aphids, caterpillars and other tidbits, all ban- quet material for various types of warblers, nuthatches and different species of sparrows. The latter, being seed-eaters, bounce merrily around in the shelter of the untrimmed shrubs and sprawling flower beds, doing their bit to eliminate my next year's weed problems. Up until mid-October, robins were feasting on May-day berries and over-ripe crabapples. Now their place has been taken by the pine grosbeaks and the sleek and elegant Bohe- mian wax-wings, move down from the north each winter, replacing their smaller took-alike cousin, OK cedar wax-wing, who nests here, then goes south for the cold months. The wax-wings are also attracted by Rus- sian olive fruit and that of the cotoneaster and mountain ash. We left sunflowers in the garden this year just to see what would happen. Sometimes a flicker will winter over, right now we have three of them frequently visiting our Russian olive, going after its seeds. We put out a supply of suet for them and for any Downey or Hairy woodpeckers or chickadees who decide to forsake their tree- tending duties in the riverbottom for the top- land. Birds will come to feeders habitually only in winter. In summer, their instinct limits them to territories, which they establish as nesting areas and woe betide any intruder, es- pecially of his own species. Their natural food supply is available and they no longer seek handouts. It is important to keep the food offered as close as possible to their natural foods; seeds, fruits, etc. Each species of bird has its own particular requirement for nesting sites. Tall trees will attract the brilliantly plumaged, clear-voiced oriole, robins, and the busy little yellow warbler. Small members of the sparrow family, such as the chipping, like dense shrubbery. Bluebirds nest naturally in hollow trees, but can be enticed into a bird-house if English sparrows and starlings, both of whom are very aggressive and nest earlier, are dis- couraged. House wrens, tiny, vibrant, cheery- songsters, also like birdhouses. The much lov- ed robin nests anywhere. One year a pair built across two wires leading into a neighbour's house. This year a one-legged male and his mate raised four young on a narrow ledge under the eves of our house. Their needs are simple; the returns in pleasure and practical gardening aids mul- tiple. For those who wouM like to gain more in- formation on attracting birds, books are available in the public library, and both the Canadian Wildlife Service, Ottawa, and Fish Wildlife Service, Edmonton have puMteaikms available for the asking. The latter can be contacted through their local of- fice.