Thursday, July 20, 2006

Rereading TEM

I have insider news for you. There is something in the works for the near future for an "annotated" Everlasting Man. I want to tell you right now, that if you don't own a copy of The Everlasting Man (TEM for short), you should. And when the new one comes out, you'll want that. Stay tuned.


  1. TEM is the first Chesterton book I ever read. Terribly difficult, especially not being used to Chesterton's style of writing yet. A couple of times I thought I would go mad. I know now that what I was really doing was going sane.

    I suspect that everyone has a moment when they're new to Chesterton, but finally, suddenly, without warning, get him. I call it the "thunderclap moment." For me, it came in the chapter in TEM, "The Witness of the Heretics." I shuddered. Tears streamed down my face. I was hooked.

    Also, we're starting a tradition in my family: reading the chapter, "The God in the Cave," every year at Christmas.

  2. Looking forward to this. I believe there is a great need for an annotated "everything" of Chesterton. His discursive style of writing, with many allusions to literature, history and (his)current events make reading all of his essays and nonfiction slow going for the novice or casual reader. We miss a lot of humor and insight because we lack a context for the people, characters, or events that GKC refers to.

  3. I believe there is a great need for an annotated "everything" of Chesterton.

    Hem-hem *COLLECTED WORKS* Hem-hem. :-D

  4. +JMJ+

    I know exactly what the Chestertonian means about "thunderclap moments" in Uncle Gilbert's writing. Being a slow learner, though, I draw a distinction between "thunder" and "trumpets."

    There were so many times, especially during my first reading of The Everlasting Man (only my second book by Uncle Gilbert and my first foray into his non-fiction), that I felt like heralds had just played a fanfare outside my window. Yet even though I knew that what I was reading was important, I did not really understand what Uncle Gilbert was saying. For me, the trumpets come first and the thunder follows a while later. (So maybe I should call them "lightning" and "thunder" moments?)

  5. I would be curious to know some examples of these thunder, trumpet, or lightning points - and also the places which are "terribly difficult"...

    In that way, it may be possible to - uh - advise the annotation making team...

  6. For me, the end of the chapter, "The Witness of the Heretics": So might rise from their graves the great heresiarchs to confound their comrades of to-day...

    and this: And what was this thing that thrust me back with the energy of a thing alive; whose fanaticism could drive me from Sicily and tear up my deep roots out of the rock of Spain? What faith was theirs who thronged in thousands of every class a country crying out that my ruin was the will of God; and what hurled great Godfrey as from a catapult over the wall of Jerusalem, and what brought great Sobieski like a thunderbolt to the gates of Vienna?

    All thunderclap and trumpets. Or maybe canon and trumpets, like the climax of the 1812 Overture.

    Of course it starts before that, with low rumbles of portent and indescribable beauty, like that Mozart concherto for oboe that's in Amadeus, like this from "The God in the Cave": The hands the made the sun and the stars were too small to reach the huge heads of the cattle.


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