Friday, June 16, 2006

Friday Activities

I'm going to give you a few more highlights from today.

Father Jaki's talk on Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin: The Two Who Never Met was really fantastic. Jaki mentioned how the two were contemporaries, but certainly would never have seen eye to eye.

Dickens, Jaki informed us, cannot really be known from his novels. What was very informative to discover was that Dickens was the originator of the (London) Daily News, the very paper for which Chesterton would later get his start and write for regularly. In old copies of the Daily News, if we were priviledged to read them, we would have discovered a different Dickens, a man with opinions and thoughts about everyday life and subjects he could not explore in his novels.

Well, Jaki discovered that Dickens had once written a book review of Darwin's Origin of Species and through his grapevine of friends, was able to obtain a copy of that 3,000 word review. Jaki said that it seemed as though Dickens had read and thoroughly studied the book before he wrote the review, which he joked was a rare thing in book reviewing!

Dickens tore apart the Darwin book piece by piece. I wish I could remember it all or find it for you, I'll have to ask Jaki for a copy of that.

The main difference between Dickens and Darwin was that Dickens lived by a religious morality, and Darwin did not. Jaki pointed out the Dickens, in his last will, stated that he left himself in God's hands, though the saving power of Jesus Christ, certainly indicating he had faith. Jaki said Dickens faith seemed to be a broadchurch Anglican type.

Darwin, on the olther hand, had started out life enjoying poetry, prose, artwork, and music. Later, as he developed his theory of evolution, he despised poetry and hated to read Shakespeare, saying "it made him feel nauseous." Jaki used this example to show that when you focus in on something false like his "theory of everything" as Darwin believed, you really become more narrow, which I thought was a great point.

I purchased Jaki's Chesterton: A Seer of Science which Dr. Thursday highly recommended to me. The book is available through the Chesterton Society.


  1. Mrs. Brown,

    I don't have the time right now, but I think I disagree about Dickens not being known through his novels...

    Wasn't David Copperfield quite autobiographical? Dickens had a difficult childhood- & he was an observer & commenter of life on both sides of the Atlantic...

    I'll have to re-read this later-

    Thank you so much for your wonderful commentary:)

  2. Well, what was meant was that in the novel form, you can only do so much. The characters are people and in that sense, you can *know* them, but just like when you write a story about yourself, you can't possibly write everything. No one can really know Dickens, just like despite all we know, we can't really know Chesterton. We know parts, and pieces. Reading Dickens work in the Daily News gave people *more* Dickens than we have just reading his novels.

    Does that make sense?

  3. Yes, Mrs. Brown...

    & thank you again for the continued coverage!


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