There has appeared in our time a particular class of books and

“The Fallacy of Success” by G. K. Chesterton
There has appeared in our time a particular class of books and articles which I
sincerely and solemnly think may be called the silliest ever known among men.
What words (vocabulary) in the text would be examples of “powerful”
vocabulary? Indicate the word and line number; explain why the word is
“powerful.” (4 examples required)
They are much more wild than the wildest romances of chivalry and much more
dull than the dullest religious tract. Moreover, the romances of chivalry were at
least about chivalry; the religious tracts are about religion. But these things
are about nothing; they are about what is called Success. On every bookstall, in
every magazine, you may find works telling people how to succeed. They are
books showing men how to succeed in everything; they are written by men who
cannot even succeed in writing books. To begin with, of course, there is no such
thing as Success. Or, if you like to put it so, there is nothing that is not
successful. That a thing is successful merely means that it is; a millionaire is
successful in being a millionaire and a donkey in being a donkey. Any live man
What words would be identified as “persuasive” vocabulary? Indicate the
word and line number; explain why the word is “persuasive.” (4 examples)
has succeeded in living; any dead man may have succeeded in committing
suicide. But, passing over the bad logic and bad philosophy in the phrase, we
may take it, as these writers do, in the ordinary sense of success in obtaining
money or worldly position. These writers profess to tell the ordinary man how
he may succeed in his trade or speculation--how, if he is a builder, he may
succeed as a builder; how, if he is a stockbroker, he may succeed as a
stockbroker. They profess to show him how, if he is a grocer, he may become a
What does Chesterton mean when he states that books about success
are "written by men who cannot even succeed at writing books" (line 8)?
Use specific examples from the text to support your answer.
sporting yachtsman; how, if he is a tenth-rate journalist, he may become a peer;
and how, if he is a German Jew, he may become an Anglo-Saxon. This is a
definite and business-like proposal, and I really think that the people who buy
these books (if any people do buy them) have a moral, if not a legal, right to ask
for their money back. Nobody would dare to publish a book about electricity which3
Reread the essay; this time, highlight the evidence.
literally told one nothing about electricity; no one would dare publish an article on
botany which showed that the writer did not know which end of a plant grew in the
earth. Yet our modern world is full of books about Success and successful people
which literally contain no kind of idea, and scarcely and kind of verbal sense.
Chesterton, G.K. “The Fallacy of Success.” All Things Considered. John Lane Co., NY.
Now read and annotate the following news article:
“Secrets of the Most Successful College Students”
Anne Murphy Paul – Time magazine – March 13, 2013
College-admission letters go out this month, and most recipients (and
their parents) will place great importance on which universities said
yes and which said no. A growing body of evidence, however,
suggests that the most significant thing about college is not where you
go, but what you do once you get there. Historian and educator Ken
Bain has written a book on this subject, What the Best College
Students Do, that draws a road map for how students can get the
most out of college, no matter where they go. As Bain details, there
are three types of learners: surface, who do as little as possible to get
by; reasons that support Chesterton’s claim strategic, who aim for top
with a real, rich education. Bain then introduces us to a host of reallife deep learners: young and old, scientific and artistic, famous or still
getting there. Although they each have their own insights, Bain
identifies common patterns in their stories:
Make a personal connection to your studies. In her sophomore
year in college, Eliza Noh, now a professor of Asian-American studies
at California State University at Fullerton, took a class on power in
society: who has it, how it’s used. “It really opened my eyes. For the
first time in my life, I realized that learning could be about me and my
interests, about who I was,” Noh tells Bain. “I didn’t just listen to
lectures, but began to use my own experiences as a jumping-off point
for asking questions and wanting to pursue certain concepts.”
grades rather than true understanding; and deep learners, who leave
Read and think actively. Dean Baker, one of the few economists to
college with As Bain details, there are three types of learners: surface,
predict the economic collapse of 2008, became fascinated in college
who do as little as possible to get by; strategic, who aim for top grades
by the way economic forces shape people’s lives. His studies led him
rather than true understanding; and deep learners, who leave college
to reflect on “what he believed and why, integrating and questioning,”
Bain notes. Baker says: “I was always looking for arguments in
Find a way to contribute. Joel Feinman, now a lawyer who provides
something I read, and then pinpointing the evidence to see how it was
legal services to the poor, was set on his career path by a book he
read in college: The Massacre at El Mozote, an account of a 1981
slaughter of villagers in El Salvador. After writing and staging a
Ask big questions. Jeff Hawkins, an engineer who created the first
campus play about the massacre, and traveling to El Salvador,
mobile computing device, organized his college studies around four
Feinman “decided that I wanted to do something to help people and
profound questions he wanted to explore: Why does anything exist?
bring a little justice to the world.”
Given that a universe does exist, why do we have the particular laws
of physics that we do? Why do we have life, and what is its nature?
And given that life exists, what’s the nature of intelligence? For many
of the subjects he pursued, Bain notes, “there was no place to ‘look it
up,’ no simple answer.”
Cultivate empathy for others. Reyna Grande, author of the novels
Across a Hundred Mountains and Dancing with Butterflies, started
Writing Prompt A:
In a multi-paragraph essay, discuss the irony of reading the Time
Magazine article “Secrets of the Most Successful College Students”
along with Chesterton’s essay “The Fallacy of Success”.
(Hint: Think about Chesterton’s purpose for writing - what
would he have thought about the Time Magazine article?)
writing seriously in her junior year in college. “Writing fiction taught
Reyna to empathize with the people who populated her stories, an
ability that she transferred to her life,” Bain notes: “As a writer, I have
to understand what motivates a character, and I see other people as
characters in the story of life,” Grande says. “When someone makes
Writing Prompt B:
Using evidence from both sources, write a multi-paragraph
argument for or against the usefulness of a “self-help” success
book. Clearly state your claim, and then refute and defend it.
mistakes, I always look at what made them act the way they do.”
Set goals and make them real. Tia Fuller, who later became an
Writing Prompt C:
accomplished saxophone player, began planning her future in college,
Identify two (2) claims that Chesterton makes in his essay. Write a
paragraph in which you identify the two claims and summarize
how Chesterton develops those claims. Use textual evidence as
support of your analysis.
envisioning the successful completion of her projects. “I would keep
focused on the light at the end of the tunnel, and what that
accomplishment would mean,” she tells Bain. “That would help me
develop a crystalized vision.”