Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Daylight and Nightmare

"Daylight and Nightmare" by G. K. Chesterton: A Review
This book contains a number of short stories written by G. K. Chesterton; these have been selected from his entire output, from his earliest stories in the 1890's to his last in the late 1920's.
Some of these stories are clearly fantasies, with no particular moral to be seen. But there are also stories that are fables, teaching the reader lessons about life.
One of the best of these fables concerns St Francis of Assisi, who decides to return to the modern world as it "was just about to witness a great celebration in honour of the great founder." However, St Francis is cautioned by Thomas More "who had seen the modern world begin and had his doubts" and tells the Saint that "even when I left (rather abruptly) men were beginning to grab at land greedily, to pile up gold and silver, to live for nothing but pleasure and luxury in the arts."
What St Francis made of the modern world and how he misinterpreted it makes a most amusing tale - for instance, he apologises to a philanthropist for that fact that "his vow forbade him to carry gold or silver in his purse"
The philanthropist comments: "'I never carry money about myself. Our system of credit has become so complete that coins seem quite antiquated.' Then he took out a little piece of paper and wrote on it; and the saint could not but admire the beautiful faith and simplicity with which this scribble was received as a substitute for cash."
Of course, Chesterton uses this humour with finesse to make a number of justifiable points against the greed and hypocrisy of modem life, but it is done so deftly that it does not spoil the fable.

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