"I really have no experience," he began.
"No one has any experience," said the other, "of the battle of Armageddon."
"But I am really unfit-"
"You are willing, that is enough," said the unknown.
"Well, really," said Syme, "I don't know any profession of which mere willingness is the final test.'
"I do," said the other- "martyrs."
This book expresses hatred of two advanced ideas of Chesterton's age (it was published in 1908). The advanced ideas are:
1. Good and evil are social constructions and not universal and sacred.
2. Great art must shock and upset people.
There are numerous passages that make you want to stop and applaud, or dog-ear the page as I did. Here are some:
he knew that his enemy was a terrible fighter, and that probably his last hour had come.
He felt a strange and vivid value in all the earth around him, in the grass under is feet; he felt the love of life in all living things. He could almost fancy that he heard the grass growing; he could almost fancy that even as he stood fresh flowers were springing up and breaking into blossom in the meadow - flowers blood-red and burning gold and blue, fulfilling the whole pageant of the spring.
The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn't; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes ojected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all.
Oh, I could forgive you everything, you that rule mankind, if I could feel for once, that you had suffered a real agony, such as I-
As well as being thrilling, it's helped me crystallise some ideas that might help me finally get on with this second novella I'm trying to write. To place anarchism against conservatism; radicalism against moderation; youth against age; folk religion against strict orthodoxy; and see what comes out in the end. I think my time as a teacher and my recent trip to Ireland gave me a strong enough cast of characters, and a book of folk tales I read over a year ago gave me the skeleton of a story. So fingers crossed.
Oh, my Chinese blog is very slow an difficult to access on this proxy but it's http://user.qzone.qq.com/939859361