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Old 5th Aug 2003, 20:36   #11
joy
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I was gripped by each change in scene. I guessed the surprises early - that they were all detectives and Sunday was the guy in the dark room but it didn't matter. It was a roller coaster of a ride, the chase being very humerous. But the end - what a dissapointment. I am afraid I just didn't get it. It was short so I kept on reading - if it had been long I think I would have given up. This book is why I joined a book group - so I would read books I would have never bothered with otherwise. So thumbs up because it was a short, unexpected, an unusual read. But did it move me, give me that something extra - no.
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Old 6th Aug 2003, 6:31   #12
columbianus Rex
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I'm sorry, but I just have to share another hilarious passage!

Syme:
"I shall approach. Before taking off his hat, I shall take off my own. I shall say, 'The Marquis de Saint Eustache, I believe.' He will say, 'The celebrated Mr. Syme, I presume.' He will say in the most exquisite French, 'How are you?' I shall reply in the most exquisite Cockney, 'Oh, just the Syme.'"

Bwahahahahaha! I love it! God help, me, I love it so!
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Old 6th Aug 2003, 10:10   #13
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For Joy:

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But the end - what a dissapointment. I am afraid I just didn't get it.
Ah, yes, the ending. I'm afraid that had the ending, or intimation of it, arrived elsewhere in the book I'd have cast the damn thing aside. I know full well what he was trying to do here.

In the 1975 introduction to the novel, there's this passage:

Quote:
The "Council" and the "Accuser" are, in the last scene, direct references to the Book of Job. The final chase through monstrous scenes, thronged with trumpeting and incredible beasts, is a glimpse of that animal world which Jehovah called up for Job. Syme is answered by the elephant, as Job was by Behemoth. These echoes multiply in the final chapter as the Sons of God shout for joy in the strange dance the Council witnesses. The parallels are finally established by Bull's quotation: "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them."
ofercryingoutloud.

Chesterton shows his hand at the end and a great big switch inside me just clicked to 'off'. You see, Sunday is Nature, the very essence of Creation, God's Creation, and Nature is forever confronting scientists with phenomena they cannot fathom. Therefore, nobody can catch Sunday. The rational Man (embodied by Syme) cannot, can never, discover the ultimate reasons for why the universe exists or why it is structured in the way it is. Blah blah bleedin' blah.

I had the same feeling of being preached to all the way through George MacDonald's Lilith and disliked it then. At least the last chapter here is only half a dozen pages long. It's the humour I want to remember from TMWWT, not this final flourish of didactic twaddle.
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Old 6th Aug 2003, 16:44   #14
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Ah, thank you. That's why I didn't understand - I've never read the bible!
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Old 6th Aug 2003, 17:58   #15
columbianus Rex
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My interpretation is only slightly different from yours, amner. Rather than 'rationality versus nature', I am tempted to consider the theme as 'Christianity versus anarchism' (or nihilism, I suppose).

Whenever Syme finds himself slipping into despair (which seems to occur every few pages or so), he is suddenly bolstered by his faith in humanity and God. If it may please the court:

Quote:
The jingling of music seemed full of the vivacity, the vulgarity, and the irrational valour of the poor, who in all those unclean streets were all clinging to the decencies and charities of Christendom.
(When Syme first confronts the anarchist council).

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It seemed a symbol of human faith and valour that while the skies were darkening that high place of the earth was bright.
(When Syme pauses before St. Paul's Cathedral while being chased by the Professor).

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He thought of all the human things in his story...Perhaps he had been chosen as a champion of all these fresh and kindly things to cross swords with the enemy of all creation.
(When Syme duels with the Marquis).

Syme derives strength from these representations of morality and Christianity, which stand in direct opposition to the nihilism espoused by the anarchists in the book. After all, Gregory assured Syme that the goal of the anarchists was not to destroy government but to "abolish God."
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Old 7th Aug 2003, 12:38   #16
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Fair enough, I think we're probably both right

I can imagine GKC being one of those people declaiming pompously "well, of course, Science doesn't know everything..."

A subject for Notty's soapbox, that one :D
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Old 7th Aug 2003, 18:46   #17
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I have no problem with admitting that it is entirely possible that science cannot know everything (or maybe even much at all). Goedel's theorem gives us an idea about why that might be.

But whatever its faults, science will always help us to know more about ourselves and the universe than any system of thought based on mere belief and superstition.

(puts soap-box back under the stairs).
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Old 7th Aug 2003, 21:09   #18
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See what I mean?
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Old 8th Aug 2003, 12:53   #19
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I hardly need much encouragement, do I?
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Old 16th Aug 2003, 16:33   #20
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I agree with Columbianus Rex that on one level the story appears to be religion versus nihilism and that the crux is the bit about how no-one can understand Sunday or what/who he is from seeing him from behind. No-one sees Sunday clearly or straight on very easily. It is when he shows his face that his true nature is appreciated; the rest of the time people are stumbling around, scared or confused or misunderstanding.
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