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Of his nonfiction, Charles Dickens: A Critical Study (1906) has received some of the broadest-based praise.According to Ian Ker (The Catholic Revival in English Literature, 1845–1961, 2003), "In Chesterton's eyes Dickens belongs to Merry, not Puritan, England"; Ker treats Chesterton's thought in Chapter 4 of that book as largely growing out of his true appreciation of Dickens, a somewhat shop-soiled property in the view of other literary opinions of the time.Chesterton's writing has been seen by some analysts as combining two earlier strands in English literature. Another is represented by Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw, whom Chesterton knew well: satirists and social commentators following in the tradition of Samuel Butler, vigorously wielding paradox as a weapon against complacent acceptance of the conventional view of things.
In 1902 the Daily News gave him a weekly opinion column, followed in 1905 by a weekly column in The Illustrated London News, for which he continued to write for the next thirty years.
Early on Chesterton showed a great interest in and talent for art.
K.'s Weekly; he also wrote articles for the Encyclopædia Britannica, including the entry on Charles Dickens and part of the entry on Humour in the 14th edition (1929).
His best-known character is the priest-detective Father Brown, who appeared only in short stories, while The Man Who Was Thursday is arguably his best-known novel.
In his book Heretics, Chesterton has this to say of Wilde: "The same lesson [of the pessimistic pleasure-seeker] was taught by the very powerful and very desolate philosophy of Oscar Wilde.
It is the carpe diem religion; but the carpe diem religion is not the religion of happy people, but of very unhappy people.Great joy does not gather the rosebuds while it may; its eyes are fixed on the immortal rose which Dante saw." More briefly, and with a closer approximation of Wilde's own style, he writes in Orthodoxy concerning the necessity of making symbolic sacrifices for the gift of creation: "Oscar Wilde said that sunsets were not valued because we could not pay for sunsets. We can pay for them by not being Oscar Wilde." Chesterton and Shaw were famous friends and enjoyed their arguments and discussions.Although rarely in agreement, they both maintained good will toward, and respect for, each other.He had planned to become an artist, and his writing shows a vision that clothed abstract ideas in concrete and memorable images.Even his fiction contained carefully concealed parables.He was a convinced Christian long before he was received into the Catholic Church, and Christian themes and symbolism appear in much of his writing.In the United States, his writings on distributism were popularised through The American Review, published by Seward Collins in New York.Father Brown is perpetually correcting the incorrect vision of the bewildered folks at the scene of the crime and wandering off at the end with the criminal to exercise his priestly role of recognition and repentance.For example, in the story "The Flying Stars", Father Brown entreats the character Flambeau to give up his life of crime: "There is still youth and honour and humour in you; don't fancy they will last in that trade.Chesterton credited Frances with leading him back to Anglicanism, though he later considered Anglicanism to be a "pale imitation".He entered full communion with the Catholic Church in 1922. During this period he also undertook his first journalistic work, as a freelance art and literary critic.