sucked out of their local stagnation many such creatures

< Previous | Next >

passengerman

Senior Member
chinese
Hi all,

What does the bold phrase mean?

When it came to the last case, Valentin gave it up and almost laughed. The little priest was so much the essence of those Eastern flats; he had a face as round and dull as a Norfolk dumpling; he had eyes as empty as the North Sea; he had several brown paper parcels, which he was quite incapable of collecting. The Eucharistic Congress had doubtless sucked out of their local stagnation many such creatures, blind and helpless, like moles disinterred.


Thanks in advance,
The Innocence of Father Brown
The Blue Cross
G. K. Chesterton
 
  • Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    The Congress has invited many minor provincial clerics. The bold phrase is metaphorically comparing them to pond creatures sucked up from the depths, presumably by zoologists But then it mentions moles which are small rodents that live underground.
     

    tunaafi

    Senior Member
    English - British (Southern England)
    No. The adjective 'local' modifies the noun 'stagnation'.It was from their local stagnation that many such creatures were sucked.
     
    A Eucharistic Congress is an international Catholic religious event that will draw or attract many religiously-oriented people such as Father Brown. A Eucharistic Congress is an unusual event that happens at irregular intervals of anywhere from one to four years apart (barring disruptions such as wars), and the Congress held in London in 1908 (which is the one mentioned in the story) is the only one that has ever been held in the UK. In a sense it is so attractive to people like Father Brown that it is like a vacuum which sucks things towards itself. However, without such an extraordinary event to serve as a reason to travel to London, simple religious people like Father Brown are content to stay in their dull villages leading their dull and ordinary daily lives. Valentin regards such lives as "stagnation" because they are so dull, and it is "local stagnation" because they stay in the same small, dull places while they "stagnate."
     
    Last edited:

    Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Stagnation has a dictionary definition. Stagnant water is like a scummy pond. Chesterton is late 19th century, correct? Many amateur botanists were loose in the 19th century studying tadpoles and pond life.

    We also say that a person can stagnate in their career if they stay in a small town or don't advance.

    Valentin is obviously an urban snob who misjudges Father Brown. I'm sure by the end of the book he will be proven wrong!

    Stagnation is the noun form of being stagnate or of stagnating.

    Valentin thinks that the Congress has invited many obscure church people out of their professional stagnation in very small local towns and jobs. He thinks this is like a botanist or zoologists sucking out tadpoles from stagnant water, maybe with a pump and a net.

    It's a metaphor, it is imprecise.
     
    Chesterton is late 19th century, correct?
    His dates are 1874 to 1936. The story was published in 1910, and as noted refers to the London Eucharistic Congress of 1908.

    Valentin thinks that the Congress has invited many obscure church people out of their professional stagnation in very small local towns and jobs.
    It is highly unlikely that any obscure local clerics like Father Brown were invited to the Congress. It is an event rather more like an International Exposition, to which people travel in order to see what may be seen.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top