9 votes
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Meaning of "the humility of a charge" in "The Chief Mourner of Marne"?

The context of the phrase here is that the phrase, "the humility of a charge too great for men", refers to the idea that someone has been given a very important task which they may not ...
Sean Duggan's user avatar
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7 votes
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Do clergymen usually use spades?

I can think of only two possibilities. One is that as the children gathered for a service, he would play along with the children in the sand with a spade, and then, as it transitioned, he would ...
Mary's user avatar
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7 votes
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What is "negative" and "positive whiteness" in "The Dagger with Wings"?

Normally, if a door is open a crack, at the bottom of it you will see something dark. It might be the grass, or dirt, or whatever else is outside the door. Above that you will see whiteness. That ...
Kate Gregory's user avatar
7 votes

Meaning of "interrupted spirals, inverted cones and broken cylinders" in "The Worst Crime in the World"?

"The Worst Crime in the World" was published in 1927 in the collection The Secret of Father Brown. At that time, cubism was roughly 20 years old. Some cubist painters depicted human bodies as made up ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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6 votes
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Meaning of "interrupted spirals, inverted cones and broken cylinders" in "The Worst Crime in the World"?

Tsundoku's answer explains the meaning in context of the geometric objects referred to, but the structure of the whole sentence is a bit confusing too: He would indeed be of an inflammable ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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6 votes
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What does "in the way of business" mean in "The Oracle of the Dog" by G. K. Chesterton?

Dr. Valentine is a surgeon, so his "business"—what he does for a living—is or includes performing surgery. Surgical procedures are not without risk; if the procedure goes wrong, the patient can even ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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6 votes
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Meaning of "private gentleman" in "The Worst Crime in the World"?

A fourth position: I do not hold a position of public trust. As an official, it would be his duty to deal with odious people. As a private individual, he has no such duty. The reason why I think ...
Mary's user avatar
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6 votes
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What does "at all" mean in "The Vampire of the Village"?

Yes, "at all" can be used in a positive sense: think of it as the opposite of "not at all". See for example Macmillan and Cambridge for the usage of "at all" in a ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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5 votes

Does the title of "Marquis" change the name of its holder?

Technically, he remains James Mair. Any children would have the name Mair. However, a noble is addressed by title, not by name -- Lord Marne. And uses it, too. He would sign things James Marne.
Mary's user avatar
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5 votes

What's meant here by " his serving as second proves very little about what he thought of the quarrel"?

According to general Outram, Maurice Marne had been taking acting lessons with Hugo Romaine. At that time, Romaine was not yet a celebrated actor, so giving acting lessons was a very welcome source of ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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Meaning of "spelt backwards" in "The Oracle of the Dog"

The character Fiennes immediately explains the remark: But he stopped in the torrent of his talk in a momentary bewilderment before he saw the priest’s very simple meanmg. “You mean that people make ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
5 votes
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Meaning of "vision of the world’s desire" in "The Oracle of the Dog"

“Vision of the world’s desire” is an allusion to the novel The World’s Desire (1890) by H. Rider Haggard and Andrew Lang. In chapter 2, also titled “The Vision of the World’s Desire”, the goddess ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
5 votes
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How can he be "so shabbily dressed" and "must have been a millionaire"?

Extremely wealthy (or powerful) people can get away with offending against conventions that other people are bound by, because other people don't want to offend them. Also, an ordinary person wanted ...
Mary's user avatar
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5 votes
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Meaning of "ethical fellowship" in "The Secret of Father Brown"?

"Ethical fellowship" is a sort of a keyphrase for secular beliefs that there are right and wrong actions distinct from any religious framework, as per Felix Adler's Ethical Movement. So ...
Sean Duggan's user avatar
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4 votes
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What connects "dripping with gore" and Buddhism & Christianity in "The Dagger with Wings"?

"Dripping with gore" indicates that the man had just committed a violent murder and was literally dripping with blood from the victim. However if he were philosophically inclined, he could hold forth ...
Mary's user avatar
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4 votes
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What would Mr Aylmer resent in "The Dagger with Wings"?

"It" refers back to "go[ing] straight to the point". If the man's thoughts are dominated by paranoia (the monomania in this story), then he will sense that any indirect questions asked by Father ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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4 votes
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Why both "noticed" and "thought noticeable" in "The Oracle of the Dog"?

"Noticeable" here means more "worthy of being noticed" than "able to be noticed". Noticeable has two different, albeit related meanings, which coul be summarised as "able to be noticed" and "worthy ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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4 votes
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Who is "the man in Dickens" in "The Worst Crime in the World"?

Who is "the man in Dickens"? The answer is that Chesterton is referring to the following passage from Charles Dickens's The Old Curiosity Shop, in which the question "is the old [man] ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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4 votes

Does "entertain about" mean "distract about" or "entertain because"?

In the above excerpt, "about" is not directly connected to the verb "entertain", so it does not work like, e.g. "talk about". The structure is as follows: "we had ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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4 votes
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Does "entertain about" mean "distract about" or "entertain because"?

"Entertain" and "about" are not linked. They (honestly, in this case, the "we" is a more general usage of the pronoun, not any indication that he himself was doing the ...
Sean Duggan's user avatar
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4 votes
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What's meant here by " his serving as second proves very little about what he thought of the quarrel"?

It carries the implication that if Romaine had not acted as his second, even if he thought Maurice ought not to fight the duel, Maurice might have cut off the money, which he was dependent on. (...
Mary's user avatar
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4 votes

Meaning of "the humility of a charge" in "The Chief Mourner of Marne"?

To offer a contrasting view to that given: the nineteen hundred years are since the time of Jesus. Father Brown is a Catholic priest, and Catholicism is a rather hierarchical faith. The "charge ...
richardb's user avatar
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4 votes
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What's meant here by "[the heresies] are actually unconscious?

"there’s so much of it that deserve to be down on" The Master is trying to indicate that Communism is not nearly as prevalent or as dangerous as they think. They're taking what is a minor ...
Sean Duggan's user avatar
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4 votes

What does "at all" mean in "The Vampire of the Village"?

I'm not certain what you mean by a "positive statement" here, but what Father Brown is saying here is that most of the town's populace are "pagan" (not Christian) and that the ones ...
Sean Duggan's user avatar
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3 votes

Does the title of "Marquis" change the name of its holder?

Does the title of "Marquis" change the name of its holder? Sort of, yes. The naming system for British peers is quite complicated and confusing to those who haven't encountered it. Every ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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3 votes

Who are "we" in "The Worst Crime in the World"?

I believe that, in that first paragraph, Granby is actually just talking about himself and the Captain. He was only asking Father Brown's opinion of the man initially, not looking to invite him to ...
Sean Duggan's user avatar
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3 votes

Why both "noticed" and "thought noticeable" in "The Oracle of the Dog"?

That "the action might be noticed" simply means that someone might just see him throwing the sword-stick into the sea. In addition, that witness may have "thought noticeable" what he saw, in other ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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3 votes
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What's meant by "It would be almost irregular, if the clergyman’s son were quite regular"?

I can't get what's meant by "It would be almost irregular, if the clergyman’s son were quite regular". It's pretty close to what you think. They're saying this would be abnormal behavior in ...
Sean Duggan's user avatar
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3 votes

Why did Valentine become the villain in the very second story of Father Brown?

Because it makes a hell of a twist in the story. In the first place because the reader is expecting the police detective to become a recurring character, so he is the last person the reader will ...
Pete's user avatar
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2 votes

Meaning of "spelt backwards" in "The Oracle of the Dog"

It's a multi-layer pun. Clearly the first is reverse spelling, i.e. 'a god', lower case indicating a pagan deity, somewhat contrary to the Catholic faith of Father Brown. However, that seems, but a ...
ShpielMeister's user avatar

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