Sorry this discussion is getting off to a late start- I was having password issues.
Well, this is one of my all time favorite books. I think it's sweet and magical and really cleverly written (a story within a story within a story).
Here are a few questions* to get the ball rolling...
1. Did you find reading this "fairy tale" an interesting new way to look at the world? What other books (or films) have strongly influenced your philosophy of life? Are there things that fiction can accomplish in this regard that nonfiction cannot? Did the novel provide you with a "close encounter of the fourth kind" (see pp. 94-96) and leave you with a renewed sense of wonder?
2. Hans Thomas' father is afraid that his wife may "drown in a fashion fairy tale" (p. 10). What other characters are in danger of metaphorically "drowning," and what is similar about the way each is saved?
3. Reread Hans Thomas's father's lecture on "the ravages of time" (pp. 244-248). How does the concept of the soul counteract the ravages of time, and why do you think so many of the world's religions incorporate this idea in one way or another? What does the Joker have in common with the soul, and does this explain Hans Thomas's father's attraction to the Joker?
4. Do you believe human beings to be "lively, living fantasies" (p. 222) just like Frode's card figures? If so, what is the origin of these fantasies --- God? Our families? Destiny? And what are the dangers or benefits inherent in not knowing who is dealing the cards in the "great solitaire" (p. 302)?
*I "borrowed" these questions from RGG