Monday, 6 March 2017

For the educated reader: The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton

Imagine for a moment you are reading G.K. Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man out loud to somebody who stops you at each of the names or terms below and asks what they mean. How many could you explain in one or two simple sentences, off the top of your head, so as to provide context for, and satiate the curiosity of, your patient listener?

I'll confess that I required Infoglactic on more than a few occasions. If you can explain them all without recourse to reference tools, then I take my hat off. Well done. 

One more thing: it's humbling to think that Chesterton wrote this in the early 1920s for a target reader who was probably the average well-educated Englishman. I'll leave it to readers of this blog to ponder the larger point.

Note that the list is not complete; its the result of me starting to jot down names out of interest, and I thought it might make an interesting little exercise. The names appear chronologically, more or less, as they appear in the book. 

A list of names/terms Chesterton assumed in the 1920s his readers recognised: 

Origin of the Species, Darwin, H.G. Wells, the Golden Fleece, the Garden of the Hesperides, Peter Pan, William Morris, the Domdaniel cavern, Mowgli, Charles the First, George the Fourth, Cerberus, couvade, Babylon, Strongbow, Cup and Ring stones, Uncle Remus, Brer Wolf, St. Francis, Assyrians, Egyptians, Tigris and Euphrates, Abraham, the Chaldees, Book of Job, Mohammed, Nineveh, Hellas, Lord Carnarvon, Thomas Carlyle, Tutankhamen, Herodotus, Chinese Empire, Li Hung-chang, Salamis, Lepanto, Aztecs, Mongols, Persians, Greeks, Islam, Tartars, Troy, Iliad, Hector, Roland, Minerva, Belloc, Buddha, Confucius, Charlemagne, Napoleon, Brahmin, Muslim, Aborigines, Herbert Spencer, Grant Allen, Mount Olympus, Demeter, Ceres, Cybele, Marcus Aurelius, Cecrops, Virgil, Jews, Apollo, Jehovah, Allah, Zionism, Moloch and Dagon, Tanit, Soma, Carthage, Baal, Astarte, Tyre, Hiawatha, Queen Victoria, The Golden Bough, Shakespeare, Keats, Delphi, Dr Johnson, Euripides, Bacchae, Sophocles, Antigone, Aristophanes, Odin, Thor, Freya, Jack and the Beanstalk, St Paul, Shelley, Demeter, Osiris, Atys, Adonis, Macbeth, Satan, Elijah, Carmel, Cato, Sidon, Zeus, Aristotle, Plato, Pythagoras, Rowland Hill, Baden Powell, Jeremy Bentham, Hamlet, Theseus, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Gautama, Theosophists, Manichaeus, Zoroaster, Nero, Quilp, Charles Dickens, Old Curiosity Shop, Servile Wars, Janus, Cincinnatus, Hannibal, Gaul, Punic, Scipio, Catullus, Louis de Rougemont, Curius, Metaurus, Theocritus, Trojans, Achilles, Homer, Chronos, Uranus, Eclogues, Sylvanus, Socrates, Incas, Roman Empire, Mithras, Richard Crashaw, Robert Herrick, St Michael, St Thomas Aquinas, Bossuet, Pascal, Quaker, Calvinist, Doukhobor, Herod, Delos, Comte, Bethsaida, Sodom, Tiberius, Augustus, Genghis Khan, Mosaic law, Caiaphas, Micah, Malachi, Ulysses, Via Dolorosa, the Apostles, Peter, Bolshevists, George Washington, St Augustine, St Teresa, Constantine, Athanasius, Tertullian, Thugs, Kali, Orpheus, Pontifex Maximus, Stonehenge, druids, Dark Ages, Gnostic, Schopenhauer, Renaissance, Marlowe, Voltaire, the Caesars, and the Pharaohs.

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