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Classic Book for the Kindle: The Napoleon of Notting Hill by Gilbert Keith Chesterton ********************************** We are pleased to offer thousands of books for the Kindle, including thousands of hard-to-find literature and classic fiction books. Click on our Editor Name (eBook-Ventures) next to the book title above to view all of the titles that are currently avai Classic Book for the Kindle: The Napoleon of Notting Hill by Gilbert Keith Chesterton ********************************** We are pleased to offer thousands of books for the Kindle, including thousands of hard-to-find literature and classic fiction books. Click on our Editor Name (eBook-Ventures) next to the book title above to view all of the titles that are currently available. **********************************


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Classic Book for the Kindle: The Napoleon of Notting Hill by Gilbert Keith Chesterton ********************************** We are pleased to offer thousands of books for the Kindle, including thousands of hard-to-find literature and classic fiction books. Click on our Editor Name (eBook-Ventures) next to the book title above to view all of the titles that are currently avai Classic Book for the Kindle: The Napoleon of Notting Hill by Gilbert Keith Chesterton ********************************** We are pleased to offer thousands of books for the Kindle, including thousands of hard-to-find literature and classic fiction books. Click on our Editor Name (eBook-Ventures) next to the book title above to view all of the titles that are currently available. **********************************

30 review for The Napoleon of Notting Hill

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    Odd, strange, fantastical book that has an alternative Victorian Britain reverting to a happy neo-medievalism in which the commonest of goods has become mysterious and beautiful. This all about a re-enchantment of the world, I think Chesterton prefigures Max Weber in suggesting a solution before the latter had argued that disenchantment was a consequence of modernity. Chesterton dances around having fun in a story that allows 'modern Britain' to revert, indeed in fact be reverted to Merrie Englan Odd, strange, fantastical book that has an alternative Victorian Britain reverting to a happy neo-medievalism in which the commonest of goods has become mysterious and beautiful. This all about a re-enchantment of the world, I think Chesterton prefigures Max Weber in suggesting a solution before the latter had argued that disenchantment was a consequence of modernity. Chesterton dances around having fun in a story that allows 'modern Britain' to revert, indeed in fact be reverted to Merrie England though military action by a handful of fanatics under the benign gaze of a king chosen by lottery who thinks it's all a laugh. Fits in with the Victorian interest in the Gothic and Medieval and G K Chesterton's offbeat Catholicism but more particularly with the idea of disenchantment. The hero is in rebellion against the disappearance of magic from the world and is quite prepared to use violence to restore it. Thankfully it was a Catholic who wrote this in bygone days - what would the furore be like if a Muslim was to write something similar today. We did not, I think, arrive at the present because a god descended on to the stage of history declaring that they were bored and it was time for a renaissance, modernity has developed from our past, can we then believe that a return to the past can be permanent? Won't the pattern just repeat itself. Can neo-medieval 'merrie England' be hermetically sealed from the rest of the world except for a few luxury products for the population to wonder and marvel at? And what might modern-medieval merchants trade to buy those luxury products? Well never mind, none of that matters to Chesterton. What does matter is that the motive force in politics for Chesterton is passion, if that happens to be based on erroneous beliefs as in this case we are shown is the case, doesn't matter, purity of belief will win out over mere facts. One does not need the Party and Room 101, Orwell is an optimist we learn from Chesterton, people will very effectively delude themselves, and what is more this in the author's view is good, such self delusion does not merely change the world, it saves it. Sadly convinced neo-medievalists don't clash with equally convinced modernists, in Chesteron's world the true faith always has the initiative.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    I once read an Amazon list titled "Chesterton is the Besterton." Now I understand why. The Napoleon of Notting Hill is set in an alternate 1984, one that isn't much different than 1904. Technology stopped progressing and most people stopped caring about government. Democracy has given way to despotism, because one idiot's opinion is as good as the opinion of all of them, to paraphrase the text. All of this changes when Auberon Quin is randomly selected as the King of England. Python-esque humor ab I once read an Amazon list titled "Chesterton is the Besterton." Now I understand why. The Napoleon of Notting Hill is set in an alternate 1984, one that isn't much different than 1904. Technology stopped progressing and most people stopped caring about government. Democracy has given way to despotism, because one idiot's opinion is as good as the opinion of all of them, to paraphrase the text. All of this changes when Auberon Quin is randomly selected as the King of England. Python-esque humor abounds as Quin makes more and more ridiculous demands as a joke and commentary on how broken the system is. When he makes each burrough of London an independent nation, one man takes the joke seriously... Chesterton's writing is good, both descriptive and full of dry wit. While much of the plot is whimsical, the battles are fairly well thought out and well written. The underlying theme of change being important is understated and never smacking us in the head. In short, this is probably the best book I've read all year.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Werner

    Broadly speaking, this 1904 imagining of the world of the late 20th century and beyond can be called science fiction, but it's strictly a speculation in the social, not the technological, sciences; Chesterton had little interest in technology, --and, indeed, posits a future with no new technology, its material culture unchanged, when the novel opens, from that of his own Edwardian world. It's also an imagining that, in some particulars, could almost be called surreal, and much of it is laced wit Broadly speaking, this 1904 imagining of the world of the late 20th century and beyond can be called science fiction, but it's strictly a speculation in the social, not the technological, sciences; Chesterton had little interest in technology, --and, indeed, posits a future with no new technology, its material culture unchanged, when the novel opens, from that of his own Edwardian world. It's also an imagining that, in some particulars, could almost be called surreal, and much of it is laced with Chesterton's characteristic dry but zany, screwball humor (the flavor of which is conveyed by the opening words, "The human race, to which so many of my readers belong...."). Readers should be warned at the outset that plausibility isn't his strong suit; or, really, his strong concern, either. His concern, rather, is with making certain points. Some of the most important and obvious of these points are social in nature. Chesterton already lived in an age, like our own, in which the powers that be exalted the centralization of political and economic power and the homogenization of culture and society; their vision of Utopia was one in which all the world was subsumed into one huge mass society with all human differences and all local particularism erased, and all of it dominated and pervaded by an all-consuming ethos of materialism. (Of course, in our day, this process is a lot further advanced than it was in Chesterton's.) Chesterton recognized that goal as the nightmare that it in fact is, and set against it a vision of small-scale society and particularism, where considerations other than monetary profit would be determining factors in human behavior. His vision, in fact, is an early forerunner and adumbration of the one E. F. Schumacher outlines in Small Is Beautiful (to which Martin Gardner alludes in the helpful introduction to the Dover edition, which is the one that I read). Another of his points is philosophical, dealing with the relation of humor to seriousness. At first blush, the humorous tone of much of the book seems out of place in a novel dealing with serious issues, and a plot that involves serious war, with real blood running in the streets. But Chesterton would say that, in a universe that involves so much apparent absurdity, both humor and fervent seriousness need to be part of the same mind, if that mind wants to stay sane. There are problems with the execution of this novel. Some of its basic premises --a 1984 London technologically unchanged from 1904; the idea that a technocratic society would dispense kingship by lot, or limit itself to employing swords and halberds in warfare; and especially the possibility of Adam Wayne getting anybody, let alone a whole neighborhood, to follow him-- are wildly implausible. The scheme for the development of a new neighborhood-destroying roadway (foreshadowing the destructive "development" that, in the real 20th century, gutted most of our cities) isn't explained in detail. And some readers might feel that Chesterton glorifies warfare (though I don't think that's his intention). But there is also a lot of carefully-crafted symbolism (as pointed out by Gardner) here; and the ending --which earned the book its fourth star from me-- is really powerful.

  4. 4 out of 5

    D. J.

    A very strange book. I can honestly say that I've never read anything quite like it before and probably never will. It's a rather surreal story that is equal parts philosophical allegory, fantasy, dystopian fiction and satire. It's all of these things and nothing. Totally original in its genius; totally maniacal in its unfolding. This book is not at all typical. There is no basis for comparison, and I'm still reeling from what I've just read. The story takes place in 1984, but London's technolog A very strange book. I can honestly say that I've never read anything quite like it before and probably never will. It's a rather surreal story that is equal parts philosophical allegory, fantasy, dystopian fiction and satire. It's all of these things and nothing. Totally original in its genius; totally maniacal in its unfolding. This book is not at all typical. There is no basis for comparison, and I'm still reeling from what I've just read. The story takes place in 1984, but London's technological progress has been rather stunted, and for all intents and purposes its the year 1904. Not only that, but democracy has broken down and kings are chosen at random--from among the bureaucratic classes--to rule as autocrats. A whimsical jokester named Auberon Quin finds himself crowned King, much to his ever-lasting delight and the indignation of his friends. A chance encounter with a young boy in Notting Hill inspires Quin to split the various London burroughs into distinct medieval-esque kingdoms, complete with the era's dress and pageantry. It is all a joke to Quin and he indulges his every whim by making outrageously comical demands on his provosts (think Monty Python). One of the provosts, Adam Wayne of Notting Hill, takes King Auberon's edicts far too seriously, and in doing so, provokes all out war against the various other burroughs. And so a society suffering from the political and social exhaustions of democracy, including (of all things) relative peace, is thrust into a new age of patriotic bloodshed. The description of the battles and the various players can be confusing at times, since its hard to imagine the geography upon which the battles are fought. But, this is a minor problem and doesn't effect the story as a whole. By far one of the most original and entertaining pieces of literature I've ever read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Abhinav

    Let me start this review by stating how surprised I am to know that none of the people on my friends list here have read this book. I mean, this has to be one of the best debut novels ever written in the 20th century by a not-so-unknown English author & yet this book fails to make even the to-read list of so many people. My acquaintance with Chesterton's works was made through the numerous stories featuring Father Brown I came across in detective story compilations. Though Father Brown isn't Let me start this review by stating how surprised I am to know that none of the people on my friends list here have read this book. I mean, this has to be one of the best debut novels ever written in the 20th century by a not-so-unknown English author & yet this book fails to make even the to-read list of so many people. My acquaintance with Chesterton's works was made through the numerous stories featuring Father Brown I came across in detective story compilations. Though Father Brown isn't exactly Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot, they still made for a decent & enjoyable read. That's what my perception of G.K. Chesterton honestly was until I chanced upon this book. The story is incidentally set in 1984 & England has adopted despotism, having rid themselves of democracy as a way of government. Auberon Quin is a jokester whose weird sense of humour seems to irk his friends & by a twist of fate, he is crowned King. Quin takes everyone on a ride, making fun of himself as well as his 'subjects' as the absolute power in his country. Riot ensues when he draws up a Charter of Cities empowering each of his subjects to set up their own fiefs. A fanatical young man named Adam Wayne takes things too seriously & proclaims himself to be the Lord Provost of Notting Hill, thus jeopardising a civil project & risking a war. Will Quin entertain someone like Wayne? Who wins the war? And what will become of Notting Hill? Chesterton's prose is beautiful & delightful to read - you often come across the kind you happen to read in books set in the backdrop of the Roman Empire. The book is obviously a work of satire & though there weren't any laugh-out-loud moments for me throughout, it's full of wry & subtle humour & I noticed that I had this grin on my face as long as I read this. The characters are well-written, esp. those of the protagonists Auberon Quin as the satirist & Adam Wayne as the fanatic. The battle scenes are very vivid & though there is blood spilled, Chesterton ensures there isn't a gory element to that. The conversations & battle speeches more than often verge on the epic, despite the fact you know what you are reading is rather foolish & makes no sense. What I loved about this book is how Chesterton leaves the issue of government open to interpretation. As in, would it be better if we continue with our dull, unexciting lives under the guise of democracy, or be in constant uncertainty every morning as to what new joke awaits in the course of the day? I found myself rooting for Wayne when he wages a war against fellow 'feudal lords' to maintain the independence of Notting Hill & later, I wondered if life under a fanatic like Wayne would indeed be any good. The only reason I am not giving this full marks is because of my own inability to grasp every element of hidden allegory in this novel, but I think I'll come back to read this again once I've educated myself on the political situation of England of that time. 4 to 4.5 stars to this masterpiece of English classic literature. This is as good as a debut novel gets, so I'd say - don't miss it! Highly recommended for one & all.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Terence

    The first chapter of Notting Hill lays out the author’s theory about the “art of prophecy.” Prophets observe the fads and fallacies of their own eras and project their logical conclusions into the future. Thus, H.G. Wells envisions a secular, scientific utopia where religion and superstition are banished to histories. Or there’s Cecil Rhodes’ vision of a British empire, racially separate from its “dark children” but ruling benevolently over the world. In our own time, I think Chesterton might ha The first chapter of Notting Hill lays out the author’s theory about the “art of prophecy.” Prophets observe the fads and fallacies of their own eras and project their logical conclusions into the future. Thus, H.G. Wells envisions a secular, scientific utopia where religion and superstition are banished to histories. Or there’s Cecil Rhodes’ vision of a British empire, racially separate from its “dark children” but ruling benevolently over the world. In our own time, I think Chesterton might have singled out Ray Kurzweil and his Singularity or the cyberpunk genre, in general as examples of this phenomenon. In Chapter 2, Chesterton (writing as someone looking back on the 20th century) explains what really happened. In two words, “Not much.” A century on from Wells’ and Rhodes’ era, England looks not much different than it did then, except moreso. Britain is one of several Great Powers (read Western Europe and America) that have subsumed all other polities, enforcing their “civilization” and mores worldwide, and bringing about a stultifying peace. The common man has lost faith in Revolution – that there can be something better than what IS. Change comes about through the slow, gradual, almost invisible process of Evolution. “Nature’s revolutions are the only successful ones. There has been no conservative reaction in favour of tails.” (p. 14) From the same chapter: “Democracy was dead, for no one minded the governing class governing. England was now practically a despotism, but not an hereditary one. Some one in the official class was made King. No one cared how; no one cared who. He was merely a universal secretary. In this manner it happened that everything in London was very quiet. That vague and somewhat depressed reliance upon things happening as they have always happened, which is with all Londoners a mood, had become an assumed condition. There was really no reason for any man doing anything but the thing he had done the day before.” (pp. 14-15) Yet the seeds of chaos are present in this situation as that “universal secretary” has absolute authority, and it happens the office falls to a certain Auberon Quin, whose description I transcribed in an earlier Comment but is so wonderful that it bears repeating here: The little man, whose name was Auberon Quin, had an appearance compounded of a baby and an owl. His round head, round eyes, seemed to have been designed by nature playfully with a pair of compasses. His flat dark hair and preposterously long frock-coat gave him something of the look of a child's `Noah'. When he entered a room of strangers, they mistook him for a small boy, and wanted to take him on their knees, until he spoke, when they perceived that a boy would have been more intelligent. (pp. 18-19) Quin cheerfully takes up the scepter because, for him, it’s all an immense joke, and he happily putters about the Palace acting the eccentric. One of his more quixotic pronouncements is to issue the Charter of the Cities, which gives the boroughs of London effective independence. For 10 years, the city gets by with little substantive change in quotidian routine except that the new Provosts must dress up in ridiculous, Medieval costumes and be attended in all public spaces by halberdiers until the provostship of Notting Hill falls to Adam Wayne, a 19-year-old romantic with an exaggerated sense of patriotism regarding his neighborhood. When the other cities of Greater London plan to build a road that passes through Notting Hill, Wayne stirs up his subjects to resist, with force if (it turns out, when) necessary. A marvelous example of his rhetoric occurs on page 74, when Wayne accosts a grocer and calls forth his love of Notting Hill: “I know, I say, the temptations of so international, so universal a vision of wealth. I know that it must be your danger not to fall like many tradesmen into too dusty and mechanical a narrowness, but rather to be too broad, to be too general, too liberal. If a narrow nationalism be the danger of the pastry-cook, who makes his own wares under his own heavens, no less is cosmopolitanism the danger of the grocer. But I come to you in the name of the patriotism which no wanderings or enlightenments should ever wholly extinguish, and I ask you to remember Notting Hill. For, after all, in this cosmopolitan magnificence, she has played no small part. Your dates may come from the tall palms of Barbary, your sugar from the strange islands of the tropics, your tea from the secret villages of the Empire of the Dragon. That this room might be furnished, forests may have been spoiled under the Southern Cross, and leviathans speared under the Polar Star. But you yourself – surely no inconsiderable treasure – you yourself, the brain that wields these vast interests – you yourself, at least, have grown to strength and wisdom between these grey houses and under this rainy sky. This city which made you, and thus made your fortunes, is threatened with war. Come forth and tell to the ends of the earth this lesson. Oil is from the North and fruits from the South; rices are from India and spices from Ceylon; sheep are from New Zealand and men from Notting Hill.” Chesterton decries the dulling down, the stripping of meaning that he sees overtaking society and asks, in Wayne’s voice: “Is the normal human need, the normal human condition, higher or lower than those special states of the soul which call out a doubtful and dangerous glory? Those special powers of knowledge or sacrifice which are made possible only by the existence of evil? Which should come first to our affections, the enduring sanities of peace or the half-maniacal virtues of battle? Which should come first, the man great in the daily round or the man great in emergency? (p. 73) Wayne (and Chesterton, I think) is clearly on the side of Revolution – believing in something greater than what is and a life meaning more than just existence. The result is war between the boroughs, a war that rapidly escalates from a street brawl to one with armies and sieges and all the death, tragedy and stupidity of such violence. But is also rekindles (by implication) creativity and charity and other positive virtues. As Wayne says to King Auberon in “The Last Battle” as they gaze out over the battlefield: “It is the coming of a new age, your Majesty. Notting Hill is not a common empire; it is a thing like Athens, the mother of a mode of life, of a manner of living, which shall renew the youth of the world – a thing like Nazareth. When I was young I remember, in the old dreary days, wiseacres used to write books about how trains would get faster, and all the world would be one empire, and tram-cars go to the moon. And even as a child I used to say to myself, `Far more likely that we shall go on the crusades again, or worship the gods of the city.’ And so it has been. And I am glad, though this is my last battle.” (p. 148) And a little later on, when Wayne pulls down an oak tree on himself and the enemies besetting him: “I am doing now what I have done all my life, what is the only happiness, what is the only universality. I am clinging to something. Let it fall, and there let it lie. Fools, you go about and see the kingdoms of the earth, and are liberal, and wise, and cosmopolitan, which is all that the devil can give you – all that he could offer to Christ only to be spurned away. I am doing what the truly wise do. When a child goes out into the garden and takes hold of a tree, saying, `Let this tree be all I have’, that moment its roots take hold on hell and its branches on the stars. The joy I have is what the lover knows when a woman is everything. It is what I know when Notting Hill is everything. I have a city. Let it stand or fall.” (p. 152) The final chapter, “Two Voices,” has proven to be the most difficult for me to get through. Not because of its length (5 pages in this edition) but because I want to reconcile Chesterton’s conclusion – “Whatever makes men feel old is mean…. Whatever makes men feel young is great” (p. 153) (which I accept to a degree) with my own misgivings about what the author is willing to accept in pursuit of that “youth.” Specifically, that there’s an equivalence between “a great war or a love story.” I would like to believe that we can be eternally childlike in our capacity to marvel at the world and strive for something better and greater, yet adult enough not to revel in the darker nature of that innocence, the “glory” and “virtue” of war and patriotism. In an age when the “Dark Side” has access to weapons like A-bombs, depleted uranium, weaponized anthrax and cluster bombs, not to mention your average machine gun, among other obscenities, I don’t think we can afford Chesterton’s blithe, joyful acceptance of violence as part and parcel of a healthy, vibrant society. (It is noteworthy that the most potent weapons used in the book’s war are swords and spears.) In conclusion, this is a marvelous book even if you don’t want to try and wrap your brain around the moral quandaries Chesterton raises. It’s funny, crisply written and makes you think, and what more could you ask for in a book?

  7. 4 out of 5

    John

    A rather clever book and from which I may not have gleaned all that I might. Seemed to me to be written on two levels and therefore subject to two interpretations: sheer nonsense on one hand and political philosophy on the other. It is set in London some time in the future when democracy has “advanced”. The monarch is no longer hereditary but selected at random. The choice falls on a minor government official who is so eccentric it is hard not to believe there isn't some blue blood coursing throug A rather clever book and from which I may not have gleaned all that I might. Seemed to me to be written on two levels and therefore subject to two interpretations: sheer nonsense on one hand and political philosophy on the other. It is set in London some time in the future when democracy has “advanced”. The monarch is no longer hereditary but selected at random. The choice falls on a minor government official who is so eccentric it is hard not to believe there isn't some blue blood coursing through his veins. Unable to take “Life” seriously this is reflected in the King's policies. These policies see the London Boroughs becoming exalted, almost to the level of nation states. Most of the population see the King's ideas as harmless nonsense until there is war between Notting Hill and the other boroughs. A strangely prophetic book written in 1904 – well prior to the outbreak of the Great War. We see the clear dangers of encouraging nationalism. Chesterton seems to be thinking through his political and religious beliefs with the King & God at times synonymous.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laurel Hicks

    Wise and zany—it must be GKC. Truly a parable for our time. A madcap king is taken seriously by lunatic functionary. Chaos ensues.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sheida

    Some fascinating quotes and an interesting writing style. While I loved the beginning and ending, I felt it just got to be a bit boring and outdated in the middle .

  10. 5 out of 5

    Paul Brogan

    With the world’s attention fixed — indeed, fixated — on the recent royal arrival it was perhaps timely that I read Chesterton’s first novel. Not mine, I hasten to add — the Father Brown stories were a staple of my boyhood — but his, written in 1904 and telling of a world 80 years hence. It is thought that George Orwell based his 1984 on this speculative attempt by Chesterton to paint a future dystopia, but where Orwell was tyrannous and dark and depressing, as well as prescient, Chesterton was hu With the world’s attention fixed — indeed, fixated — on the recent royal arrival it was perhaps timely that I read Chesterton’s first novel. Not mine, I hasten to add — the Father Brown stories were a staple of my boyhood — but his, written in 1904 and telling of a world 80 years hence. It is thought that George Orwell based his 1984 on this speculative attempt by Chesterton to paint a future dystopia, but where Orwell was tyrannous and dark and depressing, as well as prescient, Chesterton was humorous and light and cheerful, without attempting to make any predictions whatsoever. Instead he imagined a world technologically and socially the same as at the turn of the 20th century, with his only changed variable being the political system, which in England has morphed into a voteless and apathetic populace ruled by a monarch no longer selected by birth but by a sort of random lottery. (It seems to me that, while Orwell drew a deliberate analogy with a totalitarian state such as Russia, Chesterton almost unwittingly created a form of governance not so very far removed from that of modern-day America.) While the reader is to assume that the whole of England falls under this new regime, the action takes place exclusively in London. The new king is a humorist who forces the various London boroughs to secede into a kind of federal city, each to be headed by a semi-autonomous provost. The localism joke quickly veers into madness and violent war when the provost of Notting Hill — the eponymous ‘Napoleon’ — takes it rather more seriously than intended. As the dust settles towards the end of the book both the satirist king and and the fanatic provost become unlikely allies — one suspects as disembodied spirits, since the narrative suggests quite strongly that both are killed in the war — surveying the wreckage of their experiment. They recognize that, while they may have disagreed over their approaches to glorifying London, they were both necessary for it to happen. Chesterton spends much of his time — and a goodly proportion of the book consists of monologues — exploring this duality, the unlikely friendship of opposites to make the world work: fanaticism is tempered by satire; the bucolic idyll is all well and good, but the urban environment has its own poetry; a sense of community needs central authority to rein in conflict; and central authority in turn needs a strong sense of community to prevent abuse. Which gives me some cause for reflection on the need for an English monarchy and the virtue of singling out one baby for a future reign. It’s anachronistic, but I suspect it's necessary. As Chesterton says, ‘The superstition of monarchy is bad, and the superstition of aristocracy is bad, but the superstition of democracy is the worst of all.’

  11. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    The great library downtown has been overrun with mold, and nearly all British and American literature is in quarantine ... this could be a very long, slow autumn. But fortunately, last week I found a few stacks that escaped the infection, and on them I came across Chesterton's delightful first novel, The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904), a metropolitan fairy tale for grown-ups, set in Peter Pan's own neighborhood. Unlike Barrie, Chesterton doesn't sprinkle us with fairy dust and whisk us off to Ne The great library downtown has been overrun with mold, and nearly all British and American literature is in quarantine ... this could be a very long, slow autumn. But fortunately, last week I found a few stacks that escaped the infection, and on them I came across Chesterton's delightful first novel, The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904), a metropolitan fairy tale for grown-ups, set in Peter Pan's own neighborhood. Unlike Barrie, Chesterton doesn't sprinkle us with fairy dust and whisk us off to Never Never Land; his playground is the London of his future, which "if it be not one of the masterpieces of man, is at least one of his sins." The question he poses is What would happen if the city were run by jesters and romantics, instead of politicians and businessmen. The answer is both very entertaining and alarming. In the London of the future, the king is chosen at random, and it is the country's fortune to receive the practical jokester Auberon Quin as its new monarch. In a flight of whimsy, he reincorporates the city's boroughs as feudal towns and spurs them on to rivalry. But he fails to foresee the likes of Adam Wayne, provost of Notting Hill, who takes the king's joke very seriously, with heroic and bloody consequences. If you like Wodehouse's Psmith or Saki's Reginald or Clovis, I suspect you'll enjoy much of this novel's humor. There are enough philosophical and religious musings to make the book an intriguing and at times perplexing tale. And William Graham Robertson's illustrations are excellent.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jose Kilbride

    This is a story about a joke. It is also a story about belief, and the conflict that arises because of that belief. It is a story about how a joke and belief can change a world by changing the minds and spirits of those who inhabit it. A man becomes King, and treats this responsibility as a joke, capering and buffooning his way through life, realising that in the coming together of great nations a stilted seriousness has long since stifled humour. In his humour he conceives a grand joke, and enfor This is a story about a joke. It is also a story about belief, and the conflict that arises because of that belief. It is a story about how a joke and belief can change a world by changing the minds and spirits of those who inhabit it. A man becomes King, and treats this responsibility as a joke, capering and buffooning his way through life, realising that in the coming together of great nations a stilted seriousness has long since stifled humour. In his humour he conceives a grand joke, and enforces it on the people of London, who, with grace good and ill, humour the King. A boy meets a King, and from that fateful intersection of destinies is set upon a path that changes the minds of men, that reshapes the London and elevates the joke to something more than could have been imagined. The Napoleon of Notting Hill is a short book, and is exquisitely written, reflecting the post-Victorian London of this alternative reality, stiff and uniform and lacking in poetry and humour. It rolls with a frantic mania, with characters wonderfully evoked by the force of their personalities, in the almost childish vibrancy of their emotions. And yet, at its heart, lies a debate, an examination of the nature of heroism, of patriotism, of humour and belief in an idea absurd. It is a debate still relevant in a world confused and ever-changing, where ideas and ideals shift without thought and principles are mired by an overly complicated world.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Diana Long

    I don't know what event occurred to inspire the author to write this work, and I don't know quite how to take it. Maybe he could see the future....he's laughing at us. Synopsis: In a London of the future, the drudgery of capitalism and bureaucracy have worn the human spirit down to the point where it can barely stand. When a pint-sized clerk named Auberon Quinn is randomly selected as head of state, he decides to turn London into a medieval carnival for his own amusement. One man, Adam Wayne, take I don't know what event occurred to inspire the author to write this work, and I don't know quite how to take it. Maybe he could see the future....he's laughing at us. Synopsis: In a London of the future, the drudgery of capitalism and bureaucracy have worn the human spirit down to the point where it can barely stand. When a pint-sized clerk named Auberon Quinn is randomly selected as head of state, he decides to turn London into a medieval carnival for his own amusement. One man, Adam Wayne, takes the new order of things seriously, organizing a Notting Hill army to fight invaders from other neighborhoods. At first his project baffles everyone, but eventually his dedication proves infectious, with delightful results. First published in 1904, The Napoleon of Notting Hill was Chesterton's first novel. It has been called the best first novel by any author in the twentieth century.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kevin de Ataíde

    "This leadership and liberty of Notting Hill is a gift from your Majesty. And if it is taken from me, by God! it shall be taken in battle, and the noise of that battle shall be heard in the flats of Chelsea and in the studios of S. John's Wood..." Absurd and priceless. Chestertonian satire is full of wit, dry humour and flagrant prose.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Orange

    Greatly underrated, visionary dystopia.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Wilson

    I always enjoy Chesterton, although his fiction is usually too much of a jumble for me. At the same time, there are magnificent lines, pearls mixed in with the peas..

  17. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Alfonseca

    ENGLISH: I read this book in a Spanish translation years ago and didn't like it much. I've given it a new opportunity, but this time in the original English. My reading experience has improved, but I'm still not happy about it. In "The ball & the cross" Chesterton presents us with a perpetual disputation between two honest people: an atheist and a believer. In "The Napoleon of Notting Hill" the situation is similar, but the two antagonists are the joker and the fanatic. The problem is I don't ENGLISH: I read this book in a Spanish translation years ago and didn't like it much. I've given it a new opportunity, but this time in the original English. My reading experience has improved, but I'm still not happy about it. In "The ball & the cross" Chesterton presents us with a perpetual disputation between two honest people: an atheist and a believer. In "The Napoleon of Notting Hill" the situation is similar, but the two antagonists are the joker and the fanatic. The problem is I don't think Auberon Quin is a good representation of God, as he himself says in the afterword. In my opinion, Chesterton can do it much better. In fact, he did, for Sunday (in "The man who was Thursday") provides a much better idea of God, at least for me. This explains the difference between three stars (which I am giving to the Napoleon) and the five stars I gave to "The man who was Thursday." ESPAÑOL: Leí este libro hace años traducido al español y no me gustó mucho. Le he dado una nueva oportunidad, pero esta vez lo he leído en inglés. Mi experiencia como lector ha mejorado, pero aún no me siento feliz con el libro. En "The ball & the cross", Chesterton presenta una disputa permanente entre dos personas honradas: un ateo y un creyente. En "El Napoleón de Notting Hill" la situación es similar, pero los dos antagonistas son un bromista y un fanático. El problema es que no creo que Auberon Quin sea una buena representación de Dios, como se apunta en el epílogo. En mi opinión, Chesterton puede hacerlo mucho mejor. De hecho, lo hizo mejor, porque el Domingo (en "The man who was Thursday") brinda una idea de Dios mucho más oportuna, al menos para mí. Esto explica la diferencia entre las tres estrellas que le estoy dando al Napoleón, y las cinco estrellas que le di a "The man who was Thursday".

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Jones

    Five stars for the brilliant mind behind it, but huge deductions for the idea that there is something glamorous and romantic about war. I am told that when the First World War broke out most European nations greeted the news as something to cheer about, and this has always puzzled me. Reading this book has given me a better understanding of how the 1905 concept of war is so much different than the concept we have of it today.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dave/Maggie Bean

    Yeah, I like Chesterton. And I love this novel. Written at the beginning of his career, The Napoleon of Notting Hill is a multi-layered allegory and philosophical statement, rolled into one. Published in 1904, …Napoleon… is, as the synopsis states, "a futurist fantasy… set in 1984." Opening with a good humored (but stinging) broadside at futurists and ersatz prophets in general, Chesterton goes on to set the stage: an anemic UK in which the public’s world-weariness and cynicism actually render i Yeah, I like Chesterton. And I love this novel. Written at the beginning of his career, The Napoleon of Notting Hill is a multi-layered allegory and philosophical statement, rolled into one. Published in 1904, …Napoleon… is, as the synopsis states, "a futurist fantasy… set in 1984." Opening with a good humored (but stinging) broadside at futurists and ersatz prophets in general, Chesterton goes on to set the stage: an anemic UK in which the public’s world-weariness and cynicism actually render its despotic government unnecessary. Onto this stage (and destined to change it forever) stride the book’s two protagonists: Auberon Quin (a near-lunatic, somehow chosen to be king) and Adam Wayne, the Provost of Notting Hill. The roles they choose (ironically, given Chesterton’s rejection of determinism – both men simply remain true to their fundamental natures) ultimately lead to a war that sees Notting Hill pitted against the rest of London. Beyond expressing his distaste for empires (Chesterton rightly noted that they were destructive, mechanistic, and antithetical to genuine diversity and individuality), he examines the seemingly antagonistic (but actually complementary) poles of human consciousness. Admittedly, he treads perilously close to Hegel, but unlike Hegel (a strategist disguised as a philosopher, even as Marx and Engels were ideologues disguised as economic historians), Chesterton was a true philosopher, and entirely too Western in his thinking to concede any accord between Christ and Belial, as it were. Far from suggesting that principles are infinitely mutable, or that any kind of "synthesis" occurs when matter contacts anti-matter, Chesterton focuses his attention on the fallible, limited human mind, and the things it often erroneously perceives as opposites. The final dialogue between Wayne and Quin therefore echoes the Book of Ecclesiastes ("To everything, there is a season…"), and I suspect that it may have influenced Neal Peart of Rush, as well. There has to be a logical explanation for the existence of "Hemispheres," afer all... :-) "The equal and eternal human being will alter that antagonism, for the human being sees no antagonism between laughter and respect…When dark and dreary days come, you and I are necessary, the pure fanatic [Wayne], the pure satirist [Quin]…But in healthy people, there is no war between us. We are but the two lobes of the brain of a ploughman."

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ayu Palar

    Even though there are only 129 pages of The Napoleon of Notting Hill, this first novel of Mr. Chesterton contains lots of things worth-contemplating. First published in 1904, it’s set 80 years in the future, which means in 1984 (a year so much explored by authors!). However, different from the visions of Orwell and Wells, Chesterton imagined London in 1984 is similar to the city in 1904. There isn’t any Big Brother or high technology. One thing has changed though, people do not believe any more Even though there are only 129 pages of The Napoleon of Notting Hill, this first novel of Mr. Chesterton contains lots of things worth-contemplating. First published in 1904, it’s set 80 years in the future, which means in 1984 (a year so much explored by authors!). However, different from the visions of Orwell and Wells, Chesterton imagined London in 1984 is similar to the city in 1904. There isn’t any Big Brother or high technology. One thing has changed though, people do not believe any more in revolution. People become too lazy and pessimistic to make a change in the society. England is still a kingdom, but the king is no longer the elder sons of the elder sons. It is chosen ‘like juryman upon an official rotation list’ (p. 17). Things become complicated when the next king chosen is a man named Auberon Quin. Quin loves humour excessively and only treats the royal task only as a big joke. He doesn’t govern well like he’s supposed to. He only cares about what uniforms he should give to the provosts (and believe me, those bright-coloured uniforms will only make you feel embarassed, instead of proud). But what if someone takes Quin’s jokes seriously? And what if this red-haired boy named Adam Wayne is eager to die to defend Notting Hill? Will Quin transform into a wise king? Napoleon of Notting Hill is absurd, and there are some scenes that successfully made me laugh. Chesterton is also a genious when it comes to comic characterization. Auberon Quin and Adam Wayne are two characters that surely will leave big impression in your mind. Besides that, Chesterton’s power also occurs through paradoxes and witty sentences. But behind its hilarity, The Napoleon of Notting Hill is a novel that has explored many provoking ideas. And now, let me put this one on my favourite-ever shelf.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Perhaps some people will be surprised to learn that George Orwell was not the first author to write a book set in the future in which the action takes place in the year 1984. Over 40 years earlier, G K Chesterton was also describing events taking place in that year in his first novel, The Napoleon of Notting Hill. Naturally Chesterton’s vision of the future was very different from that of Orwell. In fact, the England of 80 years hence is almost identical to the England of Chesterton’s time, but w Perhaps some people will be surprised to learn that George Orwell was not the first author to write a book set in the future in which the action takes place in the year 1984. Over 40 years earlier, G K Chesterton was also describing events taking place in that year in his first novel, The Napoleon of Notting Hill. Naturally Chesterton’s vision of the future was very different from that of Orwell. In fact, the England of 80 years hence is almost identical to the England of Chesterton’s time, but with one major difference. Democracy has peacefully passed away, and control has passed into the hands of a king who is chosen by lottery. (We are also told that there are no international wars in the future, but this passing remark has no further relevance to the story.) It has been suggested that Orwell chose the year 1984 as a result of Chesterton’s influence, but I somehow find it hard to see the curmudgeonly socialist having much time for the sanctimonious Catholicism of Chesterton. Admittedly this first novel is thankfully free of Chesterton’s bad habit of stating personal prejudice as if it was incontestable fact. Sadly, the perverse precepts and purple prose seem to have become ingrained in Chesterton from the outset of his writing. The story opens with Auberon Waugh, a man with a taste for mischievous humour who strains the patience of his more strait-laced and pompous companions. To their dismay, it Waugh is selected to become the new King. The agent of chaos has become the Lord of Misrule. Waugh treats his new role in the same way that he treats everything – as a joke. He forces the Provosts of various parts of London to wear absurd garbs, and invents a folklore and proud local tradition for each area. Most of the recipients of the king’s new laws are not very pleased, but the King soon finds that his joke has gone too far when one man takes his new role very seriously indeed. This is Adam Wayne, the Provost of Notting Hill. A young man at the time when the King introduces these new rules, Wayne believes in the proud (and newly invented) traditions of his district with a humourless fanaticism. When the Provosts of other districts start to encroach on Notting Hill, Wayne goes to war with them. Despite having the superiority of numbers, Wayne’s enemies are unable to defeat the enterprising (if insane) young man, and are forced to acquiesce. However in the book’s final section set further into the future, the other districts have now began to share Wayne’s local patriotism for their districts and to resent Notting Hill’s interference in their own part of London. This leads to one final cataclysmic conflict. Chesterton’s book offers a satirical look at the dangers of nationalism, and how divisions and conflicts arise between people of different areas based on dubious mythologies about heritage and descent that lay in the past, and sometimes not that distant a past either. While the King should probably be promoting internationalism, his joking attempt to stir up regional pride leads instead to a bloody conflict. There are lessons here about conflict in our own times. Wayne is defending absurd and phoney traditions concerning Notting Hill, but this is hardly any worse than the specious theories of Arianism drawn up by the Nazis a few decades later. Even now many nations are killing others in defence of peculiar myths that we have about our origins that would not stand up to any real historical scrutiny. There is another possibility raised by Chesterton’s book, and one that he would hate me for suggesting. However since Chesterton had a love of mischievously stirring things up (in print at least), then I will do the same. In the final chapter of the book there is a discussion between the King and Wayne in which the King tries to insist that everything he had created was little more than a joke, but Wayne still insists on his right to take it seriously. The King compares himself to God in doing this, and is there not an interesting point here, one that Chesterton would be unable to countenance? Is there not something here about the origins of religions? If there is a god, we might be forgiven for wondering if his own creation is a joke here in which he has mischievously allowed a wide range of religions to proliferate, leading to equally absurd and bloodthirsty conflicts, as two sides seek to defend their own indefensible mythologies. Perhaps this might explain why Chesterton cannot quite see his point through, and continues to have a sneaking sympathy for the King and Wayne, no matter what they do. Their enemies are dreary and prosaic, but both men are somehow better than them, the King because he is creative and mischievous and sees more than they do, and Wayne because he finds something idealistic worth dying for. Indeed there is something confusing about the ideas in The Napoleon of Notting Hill. We have a book that exposes the hollowness of nationalism and ethnocentrism written by a narrow-minded Little England patriot, and a book that accidentally lifts the lid on the dangerous absurdity of religion written by a closed-minded devout believer (Chesterton was not yet a Catholic). It is perhaps hardly surprising that on one level Chesterton is obliged to support the more irrational and foolish characters, and to do so by making sure that their decisions are always right whilst their enemies behave in a manner that is irksome and wrong. There is always a peculiar tension in Chesterton’s views of the world. On one level, he was entirely an establishment figure – a supporter of a conservative world viewpoint, nationally, politically and religiously. Nonetheless his books celebrate the outsider who threatens the existing order. The ruling classes in Chesterton are boring and stuffy and offer a stultifying outlook on life. Only the maverick and original thinker can bring freshness and make life worth living, and yet this is precisely the kind of figure that Chesterton does not want to see in real life. Chesterton may have favoured the dull official figures in actuality, but his heart lies with the Waughs and Waynes.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Paula Vince

    This book caught my eye at the second-hand shop, and I thought it'd be a good choice for the 'Classic by a New-To-You author in the 2018 Back to the Classics Challenge. I'd heard of G.K. Chesterton, but knew next to nothing about him. If this first novel and his Wiki page is any indication, he was a pretty colourful character and man about town. The title alone should have given me some indication that this story would be a weird ride, but it still had me shaking my head several times. Not in a This book caught my eye at the second-hand shop, and I thought it'd be a good choice for the 'Classic by a New-To-You author in the 2018 Back to the Classics Challenge. I'd heard of G.K. Chesterton, but knew next to nothing about him. If this first novel and his Wiki page is any indication, he was a pretty colourful character and man about town. The title alone should have given me some indication that this story would be a weird ride, but it still had me shaking my head several times. Not in a bad way though :) Chesterton wrote it in the guise of a futuristic tale, but it's really more like an alternative history of his own turn-of-the-twentieth-century London. The hereditary monarchy of Britain has been abolished. Instead, successive kings are chosen haphazardly by lot. The characters are great at justifying the reasons behind this. (Is trusting the luck of the draw any less chancy than hoping the eldest son of an eldest son will turn out well? If he's a tyrant, he's still a check on hundreds of other tyrants. If he's a cynic, it's to his interest to govern well. And if he's a criminal, we've removed the need for crime by removing poverty and substituting power.) One day the role falls to Auberon Quin, a little owl-like guy who likes nothing better than a good joke. He says, 'A sense of humour, weird and delicate, is the new religion of mankind. I made a kind of vow to myself that I would not talk seriously, which always means answering silly questions.' When he's crowned king, Auberon decides to turn the London suburbs into a copy of the old Medieval feudal system he loved reading about as a kid. Everyone is ordered to erect city gates and obtain banners and coats of arms, just so he can amuse himself by sitting back and seeing it all play out. Of course the people hate it. (Londoners had no particular objection to the king making a fool of himself, but they were indignant when it became evident he wished to make fools of them.) But since lodging formal complaints involves putting themselves in the spotlight with trumpets and fanfare, they decide to let it roll and live their lives as normal as possible. Some businessmen wish to build a new highway which will involve demolishing a tiny, insignificant street in Notting Hill. The young ruler of that suburb refuses any money offers, and decides to declare war on them, with all the pomp and ceremony he can muster. It turns out that even though the king considers his own reign a big joke, Adam Wayne takes it totally seriously. He idolises his birthplace, Notting Hill, with great fervour, and closest to his heart is the aptly named Pump Street, which is under threat. The style of the current monarchy makes it easy for him to defend it with all his passion. What follows is a total shemozzle, fought with all sorts of antique weapons such as halberts and swords. Whoa, the first thing that jumps out at me is that guys with warped senses of humour and guys with no sense of humour are equally dangerous. Chesterton seems to be suggesting that a balance somewhere in the middle is needed. I'll bet he had great fun writing it, and the foreword in my copy says that one rejected title was, 'The Joker and the Fanatic.' It's a fairly short and quick read, with the potential to spend just as long thinking about it and trying to thresh out meaning when you finish. Both main characters have some valid points. Auberon believes that humour is the greatest power in the world, and we'd definitely suffer to live without it (although Adam Wayne somehow managed!) But we can also take good on board from the way Adam appreciates simple truth and beauty that others take for granted. We may think he romanticises the commonplace to a ludicrous extent, but it makes him happy and there are big grains of truth in it. One thing stays most in my mind. What Auberon intended as a meaningless joke without any real conviction becomes a great and wonderful cause for Adam to believe in. He doesn't let any man dictate what's meaningful and what's not, so perhaps Chesterton is challenging us to follow his example. We can use our own God-given heart and reason to choose what we deem meaningful, and we can do it in a more balanced way than these crazy, polarised protagonists. Here is some of the sort of dialogue you can expect. This bit begins when the king feels the earnest young man growing on him. Auberon (to Adam): Have you hypnotised me? Curse your uncanny blue eyes. Let me go. Give me back my sense of humour. Give it back I say. Adam: I solemnly assure you that I haven't got it. Auberon: No, I don't think you have. (Falls back with a roar of laughter.) Some passages are surprisingly topical for our day and age. How about this one. 'Mr Mick not only became a vegetarian but at length declared vegetarianism doomed, shedding, as he called it finely, the green blood of the silent animals. He predicted that men in a better age would live on nothing but salt. And then came the pamphlet from Oregon (where the thing was tried) entitled "Why should Salt suffer?" and there was more trouble.' It impresses me to think that this was published back in 1904! I'm glad I read this wacky little book, but won't add it to my favourites. It's too ridiculous for many stars, but too thought-provoking for few. It probably deserves a ranking somewhere in the middle, which may match where our senses of humour should be.

  23. 4 out of 5

    T.E.

    Reading Chesterton is so damn invigorating. Started with delight, read with pleasure, finished with exhilaration. I know of no one else who can raise such a word-tide of vigorous, evangelical zeal. One of the few books which has actually made me laugh aloud. Why in the Lord's good name is this man not more appreciated??

  24. 4 out of 5

    Laura-Lee Rahn

    Chesterton is obviously very witty and clever and uses a lot of literary "tricks" like allegory, metaphors, forshadowing, dramatic irony, etc. But there are times when it seems like he's trying so hard to be clever that I feel like saying what Shakespeare said in "Hamlet" "Less Art; more matter". In my humble opinion and for the penny it's worth. Sincerely, Laura-Lee (Rahn)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Khaleeb

    I aspire to the lunacy depicted in this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kenya Starflight

    It's nice to know that dystopian literature was a thing before blockbusters like "Hunger Games" wore out the genre's welcome, heh... I haven't read anything else by G. K. Chesterton, and I'm not sure what prompted me to download this e-book (besides the fact that it popped up as a Kindle freebie at some point), but it was definitely an interesting read. And despite being written over a century ago, it's a satire that still holds some relevance today. It's the 1980s -- though society and technolog It's nice to know that dystopian literature was a thing before blockbusters like "Hunger Games" wore out the genre's welcome, heh... I haven't read anything else by G. K. Chesterton, and I'm not sure what prompted me to download this e-book (besides the fact that it popped up as a Kindle freebie at some point), but it was definitely an interesting read. And despite being written over a century ago, it's a satire that still holds some relevance today. It's the 1980s -- though society and technology are still frozen at the Victorian era, for reasons the author makes clear in the story's prologue -- and England's kings are now chosen by a random process rather than a royal lineage. The lot has fallen on Auberon Quin, an eccentric who promptly decides to divide London into boroughs again and require ceremonial dress and actions of its lords, because why not? It's all fun and games for him... so when the newly appointed leader of the Notting Hill borough declares war against his neighbors for trying to build a road through a block of storefronts, no one knows quite what to make of it. And when war wracks London and brings chaos to the city, Auberon realizes that someone has taken his playful edicts dead serious... One issue I often have with older books is getting used to the writing style, which can often feel stilted and overly formal in comparison to modern writing. I didn't have that problem so much with this book, and while there were some terms that have been rendered unfamiliar and archaic by the passage of time, I didn't have much of a problem understanding what was going on. The writing is wry and sarcastic at times, and not afraid to poke fun at the foibles of the society and its characters. The characters are more caricatures than anything else, larger-than-life stereotypes without much depth, but that's to be expected from a satirical work. The story, too, is over the top, but highly entertaining. And for those who think it holds no relevance today... look at the number of people out there who take outrageous things seriously, and how one thoughtless action on the part of someone powerful (a politician, a celebrity, etc.) can have horrific repercussions for years to come... An odd read, but one I'm glad I read, "The Napoleon of Notting Hill" is a classic that can still be enjoyed and seen as relevant today. If you enjoy Victorian literature and/or satirical classics, this is worth a read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Richard Thompson

    What if democracy decayed into despotism through neglect and feeling that government doesn't matter? What if the process for choosing our despotic rulers was an arbitrary selection of random people on the theory that one is as good as the next? What if government became absurd and capricious? What if some people took the absurd and capricious government seriously? I'm sure that Chesterton saw all of this happening in England at the turn of the 20th century, so that his near future fantasy was me What if democracy decayed into despotism through neglect and feeling that government doesn't matter? What if the process for choosing our despotic rulers was an arbitrary selection of random people on the theory that one is as good as the next? What if government became absurd and capricious? What if some people took the absurd and capricious government seriously? I'm sure that Chesterton saw all of this happening in England at the turn of the 20th century, so that his near future fantasy was meant to be a logical projection of what he saw in his own day. If only he could have been in the USA in 2019 to see how true all of these fantasy predictions have become. When I was younger I advocated to my friends what I called the Buffoon Theory of Government, which was that all politicians are bunglers who are equally false and bad so that we should pick the ones who will at least be most amusing. Now we have gotten what I once wished for, and I'm not so sure that it was a good theory. Government really does have a purpose, and there is a huge difference between good government and bad government, even if nearly all politicians are clowns. In Chesterton's vision of the future, the Buffoon Theory wins out. At first it is all intended as a big joke, a bit of amusement to enliven a dull world, but then the Provost of Notting Hill, Adam Wayne, begins to take the Buffoon King seriously. Wayne is a romantic, a noble soul, and an artist of life, and through his insane literal interpretation of the Buffoon King's orders, he manages to restore nobility, integrity and purpose to all of England. Hurrah! This was my first foray into the works of Chesterton. I suspect that some of his later writing is better, so I am open to reading more. He certainly has a strong command of the language, a way with words and a dry wit that left me wanting more and thinking that his talents might be better applied in a different sort of book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hezekiah Brown

    This is an interesting exploration of what makes people passionate about things, and what keeps life from getting dull. Namely, love and laughter. Written in Chesterton's iconic humor this is a good light book for anyone looking for good material in a fun package.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nate Hansen

    Chesterton is always at his best when he has a slightly ludicrous cast doing slightly ludicrous things. In the Napoleon of Notting Hill, he's created a story and a dramatis personae that are really very hard to beat, and used them to such effect that this book is a rare treat. Five stars - definitely worth a read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sophie

    This book is absurd.

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