GKC Walt Whitman and Robert Louis Stevenson
Embedded within the dedicatory poem which opens TMWWT are tributes to Walt Whitman and Robert Louis Stevenson. Some of the more literary oriented of you may have picked up on those references already, but for those of us less well-read there is a feeling of familiarity without exact recognition and, in some cases a feeling of being foreign as well. In a few places in the full book, that familiarity/foreignness creates a feeling of cognitive dissonance; perhaps not as intense as das unheimliche
but strong enough to cause irritation. I experienced this during the chase through London and became so irritated with that portion of TMWWT that I decided I hated it by the end of my first reading.
I have provided a link to an essay about Whitman and Stevenson, authors whom GKC admired greatly. I hope you will take few minutes to read it. It is very interesting and I believe it will help your appreciation of the book.
Here is a portion of that essay.
"Who are the giants? Walt Whitman and Robert Louis Stevenson! Chesterton tells readers, after referring to the giants who “labored in that cloud,” that a certain book prompts his memories of those bygone days. Perhaps this poem and The Man Who Was Thursday, the book for which the poem serves as the dedication, were both inspired by the memories that that other book evoked as Chesterton held it in his hands. That other book, the book Chesterton and Bentley had found as boys, is Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Chesterton’s poem contains an overt mention of “leaves of grass” in line twenty-four. Moreover, the reference to “fish-shaped Paumanok,” in line twenty-two is an unmistakable reference to Whitman. That great American poet wrote an autobiographical poem entitled “Starting from Paumanok,” and the name Paumanok is a reference to Whitman’s birthplace."
Thank you.GKC Witman and RLStevenson