Reading guide for The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox

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The Meaning of Night

A Confession

by Michael Cox

The Meaning of Night
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2006, 672 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2007, 704 pages

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. 'After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn's for an oyster supper.'

    The first line unexpectedly introduces Edward Glyver as a murderer. In some ways he is an unlikely hero. How quickly does the reader begin to support him? Is it sympathy, admiration or something else that first causes the reader to support this character?

  2. 'For Death is the meaning of night
    The eternal shadow
    Into which all lives must fall
    All hopes expire'
    P. Rainsford Daunt, 'From the Persian'

    What is the significance of the book's title?

  3. What does the role of the editor, J.J. Antrobus, add to the book?

  4. 487 members of the public read early copies of The Meaning of Night as part of a BML market research project. When asked 'Which other authors or other works of fiction would you compare The Meaning of Night to?', the most popular answers were Charles Dickens and Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.

    Do you agree with these answers? Do you feel Charles Dickens and Fingersmith were the most popular answers because of similarities in historical setting, geographical setting, characterisation, language, plot themes or something else?

  5. 'I think much of her – I mean my mother – and how alike we were.'

    How are Glyver and his mother Laura Duport similar? Do you think her actions were justifiable?

  6. In an interview the author Michael Cox said, 'Evenwood, the ravishingly beautiful country house, is a symbol of Glyver's ultimately forlorn hopes.'

    Which hope in particular do you think Evenwood symbolizes? Is it merely materialistic? What is it about Evenwood that Glyver is prepared to kill for?

  7. The chapter in which Le Grice gives Glyver a book of Daunt's poetry dedicated to 'E.G.' is entitled 'Amicus Verus' – a true friend. Is Le Grice Glyver's truest friend? Is there a character with whom Glyver has a stronger bond, even if their relationship does not survive the book?

  8. 'I killed him, but in doing so, I killed the best part of myself.'

    Which characters receive appropriate punishments and which do not? Were you satisfied with the book's ending?

    Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of W.W. Norton & Company. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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