Mystic abandonment to ritual?

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Senior Member
Hi everyone.
Could you tell me what the phrase "mystic abondonment to ritual" means?
The excerpt is from "Goodbye, Mr Chips" by James Hilton.
He found that his pride in Brookfield reflected back, giving him cause for pride in himself and his position. It was a service that gave him freedom to be supremely and completely himself. He had won, by seniority and ripeness, an uncharted no-man's-land of privilege; he had acquired the right to those gentle eccentricities that so often attack schoolmasters and parsons. He wore his gown till it was almost too tattered to hold together; and when he stood on the wooden bench by Big Hall steps to take call-over, it was with an air of mystic abandonment to ritual.
  • Trochfa

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In this context "mystic" means "mystical" and so "mystic abandonment to ritual" means "mystical/Spiritual abandonment to ritual". In other words, he "completely lets his soul get lost in the ritual" of call-over, which is where the boys pass by saying their names as he ticks them off the register.

    another term for mystical
    If I understand correctly, at this point in the book Mr Chipping has been doing this job for many years, and so for him call-over has become a very regular ritual.


    English - US, Canada
    "Abandon" in this sense means to surrender one's will to something—to "just go with it", to be swept away with the emotions associated with it.

    I see a complex meaning in "mystic" here, too. I think the author's making a tongue-in-cheek reference to the mystique of higher education and great institutions.

    A degree is really just a certification that you've done a certain amount of work in a certain field, and that some (presumed) experts have acknowledged that. But for most people, it also represents an important, memorable part of their lives—a true transition to adulthood; a successful completion of a serious, formidable challenge to one's dedication and persistence.

    Since emotions themselves can be considered "mystical" (beyond our control or understanding), experiencing something acutely emotional can be considered "mystical", especially when it involves a major life transition in a romantic (idealistic) setting.

    So what I get out of this creative phrasing is that he still felt overwhelmed by what he'd achieved and the powers it brought him, and by the history and complexity of the whole higher-ed system he'd not only successfully navigated, but had become a part of.

    That said, I never went past high school myself, so this is all theory. :?)
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