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Showing posts from March, 2012

Chesterton and Conrad on Facts

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© Daniel J Maxwell
In the last few days, I've been perusing two radically different books: G. K. Chesterton's The Club of Queer Trades (a first-rate audiobook) and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (my beloved publicity copy).  The first is a humorous collection of adventures in Victorian London.  The second is a profound, psychological study set in Africa under British imperialism.  Two books could not be more unlike.  But while I was reviewing some of the more outstanding quotes today, it struck me both books have similar things to say...on the subject of facts.

It's a weird coincidence.  I have a habit of reading multiple books at once, but between books of different genre, there is rarely such a complete, simultaneous overlap of message/meaning.  If it doesn't bore you to tears, read the excerpts below and tell me if I'm just seeing things:

   "Facts," murmured Basil, like one mentioning some strange, far-off animals, "how facts obscure the trut…

4 short reviews

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Beowulf Unknown 3.5 out of 5 stars
I feel almost guilty for rating this classic of classics so poorly, but I think it's a book you either love, loathe, or feel lukewarm about.

Pros:  The historic setting, historic dialogue, underwater/cave battle, and Christian perspective.  Added 1/2 star for Beowulf's influence on Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

Cons:  Beowulf (the character) is much too flawless a fighter. He hardly seems human.  A more interesting character is Wiglaf, the underling whose courage outweighs his inexperience.


The Queen of Spades Alexander Pushkin 2 out of 5 stars
A very weird, Edgar Allan Poe-esque story about gambling and ghosts.  It's also super fast-paced, which doesn't help.  Interesting concept, however.


A Tangled Tale Lewis Carroll 5 out of 5 stars
One of the best books I've read in the last year.  This is a collection of math/logic puzzles, with continuing characters and storylines.  The dialogue is wonderfully witty and hilarious at times ("…