The Pleasure Of No Longer Being Very Young By GK Chesterton

On The Pleasure of No Longer Being Very Young is an interesting essay written by GK. Chesterton. Chesterton was British essayist who started his career as a reviewer of art books for the London Bookman. He wrote essays, history, biography, criticism, fiction, poetry and drama. The volumes of his essays like Tremendous Trifles and others also speak of his love of balance, antithesis and paradox as well as his wide reading and well-stocked memory. Chesterton is always very sure of himself. Even though he is often digressive, he never allows the contours of his essay to get distended or blurred.

On The Pleasure of No Longer Being Very Young is one of the marvelous essays which is full of paradoxes with flashes of bright humour here and there. In this essay Chesterton seeks to discuss the advantages of growing old.

The author says that growing old is not a bad or fearful phase of life rather it is very useful and advantageous. But this phase of life is hardly described or stated sensibly. As a result the bright side of growing old in age is obscured and false idealization creeps into it. The result is that the young people are really skeptical about the advantages of old age. Chesterton does not attach the advantage of growing old to wisdom; rather his basis of evaluation is the sense of romanticism and adventurousness which according to him are found more in elderly people than the young people.

According to Chesterton the advantages of growing old sound like paradoxes. Giving examples, the author says that one of the advantages is that the world seems to be growing younger and lovelier to a man advancing in years. Tradition, institutions, maxims and code of manners which seemed lifeless, stiff and senseless in young age, take on a new meaning. A young man grows up in a world with provers and percepts that appear to be quite stiff and senseless. But these proverbs and percepts which have become stale things for a young man by repetition, are found by a man growing old, are found fresh and useful which he had missed when young. Giving example from his own life, Chesterton says that not until, he had a dog of his own, did he understand the meaning of the proverb “Let a sleeping dog lie’ Not until he lived in the country, did the meaning of the proverb-It’s in the ill wind that blow nobody good’ come home to him.

Chesterton comments that as a man advances in age the rebellious part of the youth subsides and the surrounding which seemed dead and meaningless, begins to mean something. This happens because of the growing experience along with the widening scope of understanding which develops with the development of age. The young have no concern with history and culture. They have nothing to do with the material pride and prosperity of the modern world. The maxims that fortune is fickle, that riches cannot be kept, that power is fugitive, that pride goes before a fall, that insolence invites the wrath of the gods, are quite meaningless to a young man. But experience of years shows them to be as true as life. A person who knows the world cannot ignore their validity. The historical events like the fall of wolsey from power, of the difference between the Napoleon of Marengo and the Napoleon of Mascow, of the resignation of Charles the fifth, and the execution of Charles the first do not impress the young. Only a person with experience is able to understand the value of such historical events. So what matters is experience which comes to a man who has gone through a considerable part of life and for such a person only the proverbs and maxims which embody the wisdom of ages have meaning. The young do not find them of any use only because they lack experience.

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The young one remains quite unaware and indifferent of how the new world runs. The young have their own idea about things around them. They see things according to their own ways. Therefore they are unable to cope with the new world. They seem to have stepped on a moving platform of the movement of which they seem to be hardly conscious. They see only the dim and shadowy background. But the old man see things in their true perspective. The author gives a few examples to support his idea. The young man at present laughs at the idea of man regularly going to church these days. But the oldest inhabitant of the parish knows how and why it happens. Again the younger generation do not believe in the existence of ghost but a scientist like Sir Oliver Lodge, on the other hand, has not only proved the existence of a non-body being like ghost but also demonstrated how the-communication between the living and the dead is possible.

Chesterton has written this essay in simple language: The essay contains interesting paradoxes which creates humour and makes the reading charming. We come across one of the interesting paradoxes where Chesterton states that he does not believe old men grow wise but the fact is that old man excels in wisdom in comparison to the young. At another place Chesterton describes old-man more romantic and adventurous than the young. This is certainly a paradox of high humorous value which is in accordance with the writing taste of the essayist.



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