Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women by George MacDonald

Phantastes George MacDonaldPhantastes: A Faerie Romance: “I awoke one morning with the usual perplexity of mind which accompanies the return of consciousness.”

I read Phantastes for the first time in 2012, and while reading it, I was very confused with the progress of the story.  So many questions swirled around in my head as to the plot, such as why Anodos, the main character, decided to go to a particular place and why he didn’t listen to advice and what was the point of his wanderings?  I approached the book as I would a book like The Lord of the Rings where I was expecting an obvious quest in the culmination of something grand. What I received was a sort of lazy, fanciful wandering by Anodos as he continually encountered faerie princesses and maidens, along with a knight, giants and other evil malefactors.  While there were instances of adventure and situations where he had to employ his strength and good sense, these instances seemed solitary experiences that did not connect to the whole.  I just couldn’t figure out the point of the story.  When I couldn’t find it, I was left somewhat disappointed and unimpressed.  Flash-forward to my second reading this year and an epiphany! ….

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The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

The Secret Adversary Agatha ChristieThe Secret Adversary: “It was 2 p.m. on the afternoon of May 7th, 1915.”

Detectives: Tommy Beresford & Prudence “Tuppence” Cowley

Published: 1922 (Christie’s 2nd published book)

Length: 308 pages

Setting: London; Bournemouth; Holyhead, Wales; Kent

 

Tommy Beresford and Tuppence Cowley are childhood chums who meet up after the war.  Tuppence, the daughter of a clergyman, wishes to spread her independent wings and Tommy, demobilized after the war, is looking for a new direction in life.  As neither is flush with money, they put their entrepreneurial brains together and decide to launch The Young Adventurers, Ltd.  Overhearing them, a man named Whittington follows Tuppence and claims he’s interested in her services.  Immediately wary, Tuppence gives her name as Jane Finn, the assumed name which she’d heard earlier from Tommy.  The appellation causes Whittington to react nearly apoplectically and the following investigation sends them on a whirlwind of adventure from which they are unsure if they’ll return alive!

The Ritz London

The Ritz London ~ source Wikimedia Commons

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The Great Ideas ~ The Answer to Darwin

The Answer to Darwin

In The Darwinian Theory of Man’s Origin, Adler of course explained Darwin’s theory of evolution and the evidence that anchors it.  Here in The Answer to Darwin, he continues with the evidence, adds to it more current research and the gives some evidence of his own to the contrary.

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters Francisco Goya

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (1799) Francisco Goya ~ source Wikiart

Adler reminds us that Darwin never built his theory on the anatomical or physiological resemblance between the higher animals and man, nor embriological similarities or fossils.  He rested his whole argument on mental power, in respect to the differences and similarities.  “The difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind.”  What evidence did Darwin use for his conclusion?  It is all on the basis of human and animal behaviour.  He claims animals reason, use tools and use speech the same as man but to a lesser degree.  Adler then gives examples of experiments of animal behaviour since Darwin’s day, all seemingly to support Darwin’s theory.  But Adler does not believe they are indisputable and he is going to dispute them.  He believes that men differ essentially from all other animals in kind, and his evidence will be presented under three different headings:

  1. Only humans make artistically
  2. Only humans think discursively
  3. Only humans associate politically

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