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Chapter 1: The Two Poets of Saffron Park July 31, 2007

Posted by Ashleigh in The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.
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I’m posting the questions for chapter 1 a bit early since my company arrives on Thursday, and I’m sure I’ll be cleaning like crazy tomorrow. I plan on posting questions for chapter 2 on Friday or Saturday.

1. What was your first impression of the two poets of Saffron Park, Mr. Lucian Gregory and Mr. Gabriel Syme?

2. Gregory argues that “an artist is identical with an anarchist,” going on to say “an artist disregards all governments, abolishes all convention. The poet delights in disorder only.” Syme disgrees, believing that order characterizes a true poet and artist. He says, “It is things going right that is poetical! Our digestions, for instance, going sacredly and silently right, that is the foundation of all poetry. Yes, the most poetical thing, more poetical than the flowers, more poetical than the stars—the most poetical thing in the world is not being sick.” What are your thoughts on this? Who do you agree with? Or is there a middle ground?

3. Syme tells Rosamond, “There are many kinds of sincerity and insincerity. When you say ‘thank you’ for salt, do you mean what you say? No. When you say ‘the world is round,’ do you mean what you say? No. It is true, but you don’t mean it. Now, sometimes a man like your brother really finds a thing he does mean. It may be only a half-truth, quarter-truth, tenth-truth; but then he says more than he means—from sheer force of meaning it.” Do you think this is true? That when an individual is passionate about something, they may at times get carried away, saying things they don’t necessary mean? Also, do you think this is true of Gregory? Is he serious about his anarchism?

4. What did you think of the following quotes:

“The rare strange thing is to hit the mark; the gross obvious thing is to miss it.”

“And it is always the humble man who talks too much; the proud man watches himself too closely.”

5. For those of you who haven’t read ahead, do you think Syme will regret promising not to tell the police what Gregory is about to show him?

6. Any other thoughts on this chapter?

Free E-book Available for Download July 31, 2007

Posted by Ashleigh in The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.
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I discovered today that Project Gutenburg offers The Man Who Was Thursday as on e-book that can be downloaded for free. For those of you who haven’t already bought the book or borrowed it from the library, you can find it here.

Intro to the Man Who Was Thursday July 30, 2007

Posted by Ashleigh in The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.
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Because I have company arriving this week who’ll be here through next week, I decided to get an early start on leading our August book, The Man Who Was Thursday, by 20th-century writer G.K. Chesterton. For those of you discussing Gilead, this isn’t meant to rush you in your discussions. Keep talking! Take your time. I’m simply getting a head start so that I don’t fall behind.

Before beginning the book, I thought it’d be helpful to do two things. First, to learn more about the man behind the story.

JUST WHO WAS G.K. CHESTERTON?

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) has been hailed as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. According to Wikipedia, he “wrote around 80 books, several hundred poems, some 200 short stories, 4000 essays, and several plays. He was a literary and social critic, historian, playwright, novelist, Catholic theologian and apologist, debater, and mystery writer.” Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society, describes Chesterton by saying:

This man who composed such profound and perfect lines as “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried,” stood 6’4″ and weighed about 300 pounds, usually had a cigar in his mouth, and walked around wearing a cape and a crumpled hat, tiny glasses pinched to the end of his nose, swordstick in hand, laughter blowing through his moustache. And usually had no idea where or when his next appointment was. He did much of his writing in train stations, since he usually missed the train he was supposed to catch. In one famous anecdote, he wired his wife, saying, “Am at Market Harborough. Where ought I to be?” His faithful wife, Frances, attended to all the details of his life, since he continually proved he had no way of doing it himself. She was later assisted by a secretary, Dorothy Collins, who became the couple’s surrogate daughter, and went on to become the writer’s literary executrix, continuing to make his work available after his death.

This absent-minded, overgrown elf of a man, who laughed at his own jokes and amused children at birthday parties by catching buns in his mouth, this was the man who wrote a book called The Everlasting Man, which led a young atheist named C.S. Lewis to become a Christian.

Honestly, I didn’t know who Chesterton was until grad school. It was then that a classmate produced and directed a short film based on one of his works. The story was quirky and unusual. While I don’t remember the title, I do remember it was about a man who broke into his own house. Needless to say, it made an impression. Then, when I married Ted, he started to introduce me to quotes, ideas, and sayings from Chesterton. In fact, Ted was the one that recommended The Man Who Was Thursday to me.

To learn more about Chesterton’s life and other works, you can visit the American Chesteron Society’s website. They also have a blog which you can find here.

THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY

Second, I decided it would be helpful to offer an introduction to this month’s book. In the introduction to the version I have, Bruce F. Murphy states, “The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare is the most renowned and critically acclaimed novel” by Chesterton. He goes on to say, “Equal parts mystery, suspense story, allegory, and farce, it is considered a classic of the spy genre while at the same time almost constitutes a genre of its own.” Ahlquist provides an overview of the book here. In it he writes:

At first glance, The Man Who Was Thursday is a detective story filled with poetry and politics. But it is mystery that grows more mysterious, until it is nothing less than the mystery of creation itself.

This is Chesterton’s most famous novel. Never out of print since it was first published in 1908, critics immediately hailed it as “amazingly clever,” “a remarkable acrobatic performance”, and “a scurrying, door-slamming farce that ends like a chapter in the Apocalypse.” One reviewer described how he had read it in one sitting and put it down, “completely dazed.” Thirty years later, Orson Welles called it “shamelessly beautiful prose” and made a radio dramatization of it with his Mercury Radio Theater of the Air. (Unfortunately, he upstaged himself two weeks later with a production of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.)

Having read this book once, I have to say I didn’t understand it completely after I finished it. In fact, it seemed to unravel and fall apart at the end. So I’m looking forward to discussing it with all of you and learning from your insights!

I’ll post some questions for the first several chapters soon. But, I’ll leave you with this conversation starter: Have any of your ever read Chesterton before? If so, which work? What’d you think?

The Man Who Was Thursday Starts August 1 July 28, 2007

Posted by Han in The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton.
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Just a reminder our next book is getting ready to start. Ashleigh will be leading. Hope we call all jump back in on this one. Sorry for my disappearance last month…Having my little one and her week in the NICU totally messed me up. Can’t wait to read again. Ashleigh is there a version you recommend we pick up?

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Gilead Questions July 5, 2007

Posted by Danielle in Uncategorized.
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I just thought I’d take the initiative to post a few questions about this month’s book, Gilead. These questions are mostly general format/structure questions.

* What are your first impressions of the narrator, John Ames?

* What are your thoughts about how the books is structured with no chapters, and written as a letter in a very journal-like style to the narrator’s son? Do you like the approach or not? Why?

That’s all I have time for right now. The beginning is slow but stick with it. I finished it a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it.

Gilead: Pages 1-50 July 2, 2007

Posted by Michelle in Uncategorized.
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It’s July and we should be starting on Gilead.

I can see that Sharron is supposed to be leading this discussion. If it’s Sharron H., I’m guessing that she isn’t feeling up for it. Usually Bethany would take over but if you weren’t already aware, Bethany just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and has her hands more than full.

Would anyone else like to take initiative and post a few questions?

If you have any thoughts on the first 50 pages (there aren’t any chapters and I believe there is only one version of the book, I hope…) you can post them here.