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Chapter Eleven

A study of a book by GK Chesterton.

Chapter Eleven

Postby The Bigsleep J » 22 Jun 2006, 19:39

In this chapter Syme, his companions and their new ally, the Inspector Radcliffe, begin their run from the dark and unstoppable forces of the Anarchists led by the Secretary. They run through forest and come across a woodcutter, with whom they catch a lift. The travel to a inn where they get some horses and travel further from there.

As events go, this chapter doesn’t have much. Its meat lies in the discussion that the others have with Inspector Ratcliffe, who seems to be incredibly paranoid. He considers Sunday to be literally the Finger of God, able to strike them from afar (in the previous chapter he did exclaim “Sunday might hear you” to Doctor Bull) should he give them any thought (which is why Sunday sent his Secretary). This already elevates Sunday to Superhuman status and the picture of him sitting on the ruins of St. Paul's cathedral is rather startling.

I like the descriptions given by Chesterton for the comrades as they march through the woods, comparing the deep shadows caressing them with a Rembrandt painting. This adds to the dark turn their adventure has taken because Rembrandt was known for his use of shadows.

It is interesting that Chesterton says that Sunday’s plot is helped by American and South African Millionaires. Chesterton has always loved and admired America and supported the South African side during the Anglo Boer War, so it is worth picking apart this. America is famous for its “robber barons”, most of whom were not very law-abiding (or at least bend the laws to mould their empires). Chesterton had a very critical of capitalism and such enterprises, so its fitting that he’d see millionaires as the true anarchists. The Boer War also has been motivated by many things, though the diamond and gold mines of the Boer republics have always been seen as the main motivation.

Any other thoughts?
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re: Chapter Eleven

Postby Sven » 22 Jun 2006, 19:58

My guess on the millionaires' question is that America and South Africa were where the nouveau rich were to be found at the time. The sort of people who would match up personality-wise to the 13th century English barons that Ratcliffe alludes to just before the millionaire comment. Same way folks in the recent past have thought of 'Oil Sheiks'.
Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
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Shhhhh....Not so loud!

Postby Kanakaberaka » 23 Jun 2006, 05:13

The Bigsleep J wrote:It is interesting that Chesterton says that Sunday’s plot is helped by American and South African Millionaires.


Let's keep this bit of info about Sunday's supporters out of the spotlight. Us millionaires have to watch each other's backs :lol: .
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Re: re: Chapter Eleven

Postby The Bigsleep J » 23 Jun 2006, 06:18

Sven wrote:My guess on the millionaires' question is that America and South Africa were where the nouveau rich were to be found at the time. The sort of people who would match up personality-wise to the 13th century English barons that Ratcliffe alludes to just before the millionaire comment. Same way folks in the recent past have thought of 'Oil Sheiks'.


Good point! :)

Kanakaberaka wrote:Let's keep this bit of info about Sunday's supporters out of the spotlight. Us millionaires have to watch each other's backs


Okay. :lol:
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Unimpressed by Impressionism

Postby Kanakaberaka » 26 Jun 2006, 01:43

The Bigsleep J wrote:
I like the descriptions given by Chesterton for the comrades as they march through the woods, comparing the deep shadows caressing them with a Rembrandt painting. This adds to the dark turn their adventure has taken because Rembrandt was known for his use of shadows.

Any other thoughts?


Actually, it wasn't Rembrant that was troubling Syme. It was that 19th Century artistic movement known as Impressionism. Chesterton refers to it as "that final scepticism which can find no floor to the universe". I wondered why he disliked Impressionism. I knew that it broke the old rules of art, but the Impressionist's paintings were more traditional than Cubism or later Modern art movements. Then I came across this definition at the WebMuseum, Paris site : "The most conspicuous characteristic of Impressionism was an attempt to accurately and objectively record visual reality in terms of transient effects of light and colour." It was the transient aspect that made me realize why Chesterton disliked Impressionism. He always admired the eternal. The Impressionists took one moment in time, with all it's tricks of light and shadow, and made it appear as if it were permanent. That was why the escape through the wood was so discombobulating. Things did not appear as they really were. This cleared up when the detectives made it out into the sunny clearing where the woodcutter with his cart were waiting. Interesting that the cafe' they are taken to is called Le Soleil de'Or, The Golden Sun in French. The sun disperses the shadows and tricks of light.

My favorite quote from this whole novel is also in this chapter. Inspector Ratcliffe comments about all anarchists being wealthy by saying, "The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all.". It's an observation which holds true to this day with so many well to do "revolutionaries" who have no idea how average folks live. It also reminds me of all those anti-big government advocates who are more interested in ruling the country themselves rather than sharing power with those not so well off.
so it goes...
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re: Chapter Eleven

Postby The Bigsleep J » 27 Jun 2006, 05:20

Ah, interesting observation, Kanak! It certainly does explain a lot of things. As far as I know Chesterton was trained originally as an artist so him not liking a new art movement is interesting.
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More GKC Impressions

Postby Kanakaberaka » 28 Oct 2006, 11:24

I just found a quote about Chesterton's opinion of Impressionism from Joseph Pearce's book entitled Literary Giants, Literary Catholics . The article is called Modern Art: Friend or Foe?


Impressionism, for instance, was perceived as very avant-garde, even dangerously so. According to G. K. Chesterton, a critic who should never be taken lightly, impressionism was the product of philosophical relativism, the absence of definition in the former being the result of the absence of definitive objectivity in the latter. One can see Chesterton's point, and even agree with it, but are we to conclude that there was no good impressionist art? Surely not. Pace Chesterton, we cannot see Monet's masterful vision of Rouen Cathedral in full sunlight as anything but sublime.
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