Francis was a great grammatician of gratitude. So, according to Chesterton, was Chaucer: “He is as awakening as a cool wind on a hot day, because he breathes forth something that has fallen into great neglect in our time, something that very seldom stirs the stuffy atmosphere of self-satisfaction or self-worship. And that is gratitude, or the theory of thanks. He was a great poet of gratitude; he was grateful to God; but he was also grateful to Gower. He was grateful to the everlasting Romance of the Rose; he was still more grateful to Ovid and grateful to Virgil and grateful to Petrarch and Boccaccio. He is always eager to show us over his little library and to tell us where all his tales come from. He is prouder of having read the book than of written the poems” (quoted in Kevin Belmonte, Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life & Impact of G.K. Chesterton , 243).

What was that about anxieties of influence?

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Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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