“The new world of fancy”

In fairy tales the objects were mostly familiar; it was only the power that was mystical.  A peasant had never seen a bean-stalk grow up into the sky; but he had seen a bean-stalk and he had seen the sky.  A child had never seen a cat in boots; but he had seen boots and a cat.  The trouble with the new world of fancy is that it consists so much of vast things of which plain people can form no picture: financial hoards, scientific machinery, colossal navies, enormous emigration — images so huge that they do not stir the imagination, but crush it.

The Illustrated London News, 22 January 1910.

Published in: on June 2, 2010 at 6:17 am  Comments (2)  

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  1. An invalid comparison. If people can imagine a beanstalk going into the sky, although they’ve only seen a bean stalk and (separately) the sky, then they can surely imagine colossal navies, having seen a few boats congregated at the dock.

    Chesterton was wrong on this one.

  2. But what constitutes a “colossal navy” is more than just ships: it’s the personnel, the many types of ships, the guns, the ground support, and of course, the bureaucracy… Now that is more difficult to imagine.

    In my opinion, his analogy still holds quite well.

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