Thursday, 4 May 2017

On The Third Day...

(Dig the cover: a monk-like figure on a ruined tower but in a high tech context with aircraft or spacecraft passing overhead.)

What happened on the third day? Apparently the number three had a symbolic significance. It was the length of time when the link between a dead body and its departed spirit had finally been severed so that there could be no return. We would say that Sunday was the second day after Friday but the phrases "on the third day" or "after three days" were significant.

"On the third day he arose, and ascended again to the light."
-Poul Anderson, The Day Of Their Return IN Anderson, CAPTAIN FLANDRY Defender Of The Terran Empire (Baen Books, Riverdale, NY, 2010), pp. 74-240 AT 1, p. 75.

(A grammatical point: I would put the comma after "day," not after "arose.")

Anderson knew exactly what he was doing with the phrases, "third day," "arose," "ascended" and "light." I am not sure whether Ian Fleming was on the same wavelength:

"On the morning of the third day a bloody nightmare shook him awake..."
-Ian Fleming, Casino Royale (London, 1965), Chapter 19, p. 132.

(I would have put a comma after "day.")

Bond has nearly been killed and has been semiconscious for two days. On the third day, he wakes...

In Bond's first novel, he wakes on the third day...
At the end of his fifth novel, the reader thinks that he is dead.
At the end of his eleventh novel, his friends, colleagues and public think that he is dead.
Near the end of his twelfth and last novel, he is shot and lies unconscious...

Thus, whether or not Fleming meant anything by his "On the morning of the third day...," there is quite a lot of death and resurrection symbolism in the Bond novels.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Of COURSE Poul Anderson knew exactly what he meant by using phrases like the "third day." He would know it came from Christ rising from the dead on the third day after His Passion.

Btw, the ancient Jews were less strict than we are about defining how long "days" are. Our Lord was buried before sunset, as Jewish law and custom mandated. The rest of that Good Friday would be counted as the first day, all of Saturday the second day, and part of Easter Sunday as the third day.

I don't know if Ian Fleming was aware of such Biblical nuances. It would depend on how familiar he was with the Scriptures. His use of "third day" does indicate some familiarity with the Bible.