Saturday, May 14, 2011

forgotten insights

Earlier eras of Western society had some great minds, with much of their wisdom regarding human nature now dismissed as quaint or worse, faded away and all but lost-- a casualty of our modern ways of thinking.

My example of this follows below, a quote about literature with an inherent perspective on differences between the sexes.

In many situations today, social hypersensitivity frightens away the voicing of similarly candid, unabridged observations. Or am I overstating this reluctance?

With special thanks to my brilliant Facebook friend James Gorski, here is a quote from post-Victorian author and philosopher G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) that put me onto this line of thinking.

I first noticed James' news stream post with the GKC quote because it comments on novel writing, of obvious interest to me. But beyond the topic of novel writing, the quote ended up being an intriguing catalyst for me for thoughts on that kind of human observation in general.

The quote in question:

“PEOPLE put the matter wrong when they say that the novel is a study of human nature. Human nature is a thing that even men can understand. Human nature is born of the pain of a woman; human nature plays at peep-bo when it is two and at cricket when it is twelve; human nature earns its living and desires the other sex and dies. What the novel deals with is what women have to deal with; the differentiations, the twists and turns of this eternal river.”

~GKC: The Victorian Age in Literature.’

So, were such differences between men and women, as observed by some of our great Grandparents' leading thinkers, just artifacts of their society? Do such observations have any actual validity today beyond their historical value?

More and more, I'm finding Chesterton a fascinating and worthwhile English author.


Sharon Jones said...

I love Chesterton. He always makes me think!

brenda cox giguere said...

He's new to me, I'm embarassed to say, but now that I see what he's about, I loaded up my Kindle with quite a few of his titles. I have some real holes in my literary education!