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Thinking Through StyleNon-Fiction Prose of the Long Nineteenth Century$
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Michael D. Hurley and Marcus Waithe

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198737827

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198737827.001.0001

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Christmas and the Superman

Christmas and the Superman

Chesterton’s Levitations

Chapter:
(p.298) 18 Christmas and the Superman
Source:
Thinking Through Style
Author(s):

Simon Jarvis

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198737827.003.0019

The chapter considers what the truth content of Chesterton’s essays, especially of his many short columns for the Illustrated London News, might be today. It looks both at Chesterton’s principal ideas, and at some of his principal rhythms of writing. An opposition between modern routine and Christian ritual is central to Chesterton’s thought. It is connected to the contrast between two conceptions of personhood: (1) a ‘modern’ conception of personhood as constituted by limitless self-transformation, and (2) a Christian conception of the person as a constrained living individual. Ritual necessarily contains elements of freedom, of play, and of delight without which it cannot be felicitously performed. It is, rather, modern routine and the outbursts of false spontaneity attempting in vain to break out from it which more really exhibit the unfreedom attributed by secularists to ritual.

Keywords:   Chesterton, prose rhythm, Christmas, ritual, routine, personhood, secularism, John Milbank, Gillian Rose

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