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Magic a play by G.K. Chesterton


Magic a play by G.K. Chesterton


What do you get when a self-assured doctor, an uneasy clergyman, a doddering Duke, a progressive youth, a businesslike secretary, and an impressionable maiden are confronted with a magician in the parlor?

In the case of Magic, what you get is commentary on skepticism and belief, and some distinctively British humor—a mix of comedy, drama, romance and suspense.

A magician is hired by a Duke to entertain some guests one evening at his estate.

The Duke’s nephew is a quite arrogant young skeptic determined to expose all the magician’s tricks.

But during the evening there is one trick he cannot explain; one that really does appear to be magic of the supernatural sort, and it nearly drives him mad.

Thus does Chesterton combine two of his favorite themes: magic and madness.

Meanwhile, the magician and the Duke’s niece, naturally, fall in love.

Chesterton’s stage directions are as amusing as some of the dialogue: at one point the conjurer is instructed to say his lines while “doing whatever passionate things people do on the stage.”

Rounding out the cast are the Duke himself, who is a comical idiot, a skeptical doctor and a less skeptical clergyman, who are needed for the necessary clash of ideas.

There are lines that delight. “I object to a quarrel because it always interrupts an argument,” the Rev. Smith says reasonably as things get testy.

“Magic” may not be Chesterton at his absolute best, but as usual, his words are worth hearing.

G.K. CHESTERTON (1874–1936) was an English writer, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, biographer, and art critic. Today he is best known for his fictional priest-detective, Father Brown. George Bernard Shaw, Chesterton's "friendly enemy" according to Time Magazine, said of him, "He was a man of colossal genius." Biographers have identified him as a successor to such Victorian authors as Matthew Arnold, Thomas Carlyle, and Cardinal John Henry Newman.


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