Locus Focus: Take Three!
It's another wonderful Saturday for settings! This Saturday happens to be, as I have said earlier, the birthday of one of my favourite writers, G.K. Chesterton. So today I offer a short write up and reflection on one of his most magical settings . . .
The Man Who Was Thursday
by G.K. Chesterton
Very gradually and very vaguely he realised into what rich roads the carriage was carrying him. He saw that they passed the stone gates of what might have been a park, that they began gradually to climb a hill which, while wooded on both sides, was somewhat more orderly than a forest.
Then there began to grow upon him, as upon a man slowly waking from a healthy sleep, a pleasure in everything. He felt that the hedges were what hedges should be, living walls; that a hedge is likea human army, disciplined, but all the more alive. He saw high elms behind the edges, and vaguely thought how happy boys would be climbing there. Then his carriage took a turn of the path, and he saw suddenly and quietly, like a long, low sunset cloud, a long low house, mellow in the mild light of sunset.
All the six friends compared notes afterwards and quarrelled; but they all agreed that in some unaccountable way the place reminded them of their boyhood. It was either this elm-top or that crooked path, it was either this scrap of orchard or that shape of a window; but each man of them declared that he could remember this place before he could remember his mother.
That is a very vague description of the most important setting in the novel--and Chesterton knows it! He deliberately writes it that way. For how else could any one place match the childhood memories of six different men?
It's a fitting strategy, but it does make this setting tricky to write about. =P
Have I mentioned that The Man Who Was Thursday is subtitled A Nightmare? Sometimes I think the best way to approach this novel is as if it were a dream, in which the hard facts of waking life get to parade around in costumes which, like those the six friends get to wear to Sunday's ball, do not conceal the truth, but reveal it.
I've mentioned that all my own dreams are set in places which were very important to me but which I no longer see--some of which I will never see again because they have been "developed" by new owners. Two nights ago, I dreamed I was following four young men--who, from the looks of them, could have been either the Beatles or the Monkees--around my childhood home, which was also their childhood home . . . and all I could do was follow because they didn't want me to hang out with them! But the strangest thing was that my home was surrounded by coconut trees which made good climbing. I haven't figured out what it means yet, but I can say that it's very demoralising to be dissed by dream figures! All of which has nothing to do with the novel except to say that I totally get what Chesterton is about. (LOL!)
There are some truths that can only be understood in dreams; the truth about Sunday is one of them. The six friends who arrive at his masquerade ball are also detectives coming closer to the heart of the mystery--and it is the sort of mystery that requires just the right setting. (I have yet to make a proper survey of Detective Fiction, but I suspect a genre in which the setting of a crime is significant has been just as kind to the setting of its resolution. Chesterton really liked Detective Fiction.)
Leave the link to your Locus Focus post in the linky
and take some time to check out and comment on those of others.
I can't wait to read what everyone has to say! =D
EDIT: In the rare event that Mister Linky's server is down and the links aren't available, you can refer to this list of Take Three's participants:
Bitter Lies Dojo, The Discworld (The Colour of Magic, et. al. by Terry Pratchett)
Pearls Cast before a McPig, Chrestomanci Castle (The Chronicles of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne-Jones)
Null Epistolary, Cambridge (Manalive by G.K. Chesterton)
Birdie's Nest, Manderley (Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier)
Spike is Best, "A valley in South England remote from ambition and from fear . . ." (Hills and the Sea by Hilaire Belloc)
Image Source: The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton