David Blackburn

Full to the brim

Today, the Spectator has published an Easter Weekend and Royal Wedding double issue. It’s full of goodies from the finest writers. Subscribers can read it here or you can open a subscription from £1 an issue; or you can buy it off the shelf of any discerning newsagent for £3.95. Meanwhile, here is a brief selection from the Books section.

A.N. Wilson reviews Ian Ker’s biography of G.K. Chesterton, the ‘man mountain of Fleet Street’:

‘Ker’s book is immensely long, and it is full of details which Chestertonians will savour. Everyone knew that GK was fat, but I had never realised quite how fat he was until I read this book: he was scarcely able to get into the bath, and his wife had difficulty persuading him to wash. He never went to the dentist. And, although Ker tries to play this down, I had never fully appreciated before just how drunken GK became. Ker tells us that Frances would go to bed early and that GK sat up with the bottle, working.

This would certainly explain what must have puzzled many of Chesterton’s admirers, of whom I have always been one. How can it be that he writes such very good stuff beside such utter rot? When Chesterton is good, he is so very, very good. ‘Every citizen is a revolution. That is, he destroys, devours and adapts his environment to the extent of his own thought and conscience.’ Only he could have written that. Then you come across a sentence such as, ‘Gothic architecture … is the only fighting architecture’. What would that mean if it meant anything? But if we imagine that the author was drunk, then all is explained.’

Toby Jones takes a trip down memory lane with Esther Freud’s Lucky

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