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Walking in wind and sun in the very landscape of liberty, he was still young enough to remember his politics and not merely try to forget them.

I want to make sure that "the very landscape of liberty" refers to the openness of the moors and commons he is walking in; or have I missed something?

For the second half of the sentence, I think it's all about the fact that young people make a big deal of their ideas and beliefs, thinking that they are what they believe in. Growing more experienced over the years, they start to notice the rupture between their ideologies and their reality, so they tend to "try to forget them" and focus more on who they really are.

Please, correct me if I get anything wrong, and thanks in advance.

For more context, here's a link to the story: http://www.classicreader.com/book/485/1

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Walking in wind and sun in the very landscape of liberty,

What does very mean here? The Oxford English Dictionary says:

very, adj. A.I.2. With limitation (usually expressed by the or a possessive) to particular instances: The true or real; that is truly or properly entitled to the name. Now arch.

So if the “great tableland of moors and commons” is the true landscape of liberty, that suggests that there might also be a false landscape of liberty. What this might be, Chesterton does not explicitly say, but the next sentence begins “For his errand at Torwood Park was a political one” and so in context it seems likely that the landscape of politics is indicated. This foreshadows the theme of The Man Who Knew Too Much, which turns out to be the compromises and corruption of the political world.

he was still young enough to remember his politics and not merely try to forget them.

Why do you “try to forget” something or someone? Because the memory is painful to you. Why might remembering your politics be painful? Because you betrayed or abandoned your ideals, or failed to live up to them. Again, this foreshadows the theme of the book.

  • 1
    I don't think that sentence stresses the "very" though. In this context, "very" is just one of those words used to emphasise/accentuate the noun. You'd read it as "in the very landscape of liberty", not "in the very landscape of liberty", right? So I'm not sure if I agree with your conclusion that this phrase suggests a comparison with a false landscape of liberty. – Rand al'Thor Feb 24 '18 at 21:21

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