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Sunday, October 16, 2011

November 10th is G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday

For next time we'll be talking about what to do next year.  If you want to make suggestions just  Click Here to Take a Survey
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I only have two copies of G.K. Chesterton's work The Man Who Was Thursday lying around the house.  One is Martin Gardner's Annotated Thursday and the other is in one of the volumes of the collected works of G.K. Chesterton published by Ignatius Press which I keep hoping to read through when I find several thousand hours of spare time.  G. K. Chesterton wrote that much, and everything he wrote is great.

C. S. Lewis was profoundly influenced by Chesterton and gives him the very highest praise in Surprised by Joy when he says "Chesterton had more sense than all the other moderns put together ..." and later he says in the same work:

Then I read Chesterton's The Everlasting Man and for the first time saw the whole Christian outline of history set out in a form that seemed to me to make sense.  You will remember that I already thought Chesterton the most sensible man alive "apart from his Christianity."  Now, I veritably believe, I thought — I didn't of course say; words would have revealed the nonsense — that Christianity itself was very sensible "apart from its Christianity."

The Man Who Was Thursday is original as only Chesterton can be.  It is at once a mystery story and a story about infinitely more.  Join us at the Harrisonburg Barnes and Noble on 7:30 p.m. on Thursday November 10th when Christabel will introduce us to Chesterton, a hero of C.S. Lewis's and a master of the craft of writing.  CHECK IT OUT at Barnes and Noble.  See you in November!

Questions: (discussion questions for the November 10th meeting)

  1. The subtitle to this work is “A Nightmare.”  Chesterton indicated that this subtitle was largely overlooked, yet was a profession of what the book is or was intended to be (see attachment).  Do you find this illuminating?  Do you agree with Chesterton’s characterization?
  1. Names are often important clues, especially in allegorical stories.  How do you think the characters’ names add to or reveal things about the characters?  For example, Rosamund could be seen as Rosa Mundi, a title meaning “Rose of the world” and used to refer to Christ.
  1. Gabriel Syme, the ostensible protagonist, expressly defends order against chaos and represents governmental authority.  Yet, while these concepts are often associated with conformity, the ending seems to celebrate individuality.  Is individuality a threat to order?  Is Sunday a threat to governmental authority?
  1. Is there an antagonist in this story?  Is there a representation of evil?  Is Lucian Gregory bad?  Incorrect?  A threat?
  1. What is the purpose of the love interest set up with Rosamund?  This is a well-plotted book; it is safe to assume Chesterton had a reason to include it.
  1. Every major character in this work initially hides who or what he truly is, and is eventually revealed.  Why is that?  What does it contribute to the overall story?  Does it matter if the revelation is voluntary or involuntary?
  1. Each of the secret policemen has a particular perspective; for instance, Dr. Bull adheres firmly to scientific reasoning when approaching the world.  Some readers have called these perspectives aspects of the divine.  Other readers have called them ways to know or find the divine.  Why do you think Chesterton chose these perspectives and what do they add to the story?  Are there better choices? 
  1. This book was published in 1908.  Anarchy was, arguably, the terrorism of that time, at least in the public perception.  Replace the word “anarchist” with “terrorist” in this work.  Does this change how you read the story? 
  1. This work portrays faith as an active quality and its possessors as men of action, rather than portraying them as men who endure faithfully and wait for divine intervention.  In fact, the six conspirators seem to be chosen and exalted by reason of being men of faith and action.  Is this an exhortation?  Is there a moral imperative to act on one’s faith? 
  1. What does the pursuit of Sunday and the delayed revelation of his true nature add that immediate revelation and explication would not?  Why is this important?

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