The Napoleon of Notting Hill
by Gilbert Keith Chesterton
The Napoleon of Notting Hill is a novel written by G. K. Chesterton in 1904, set in a nearly-unchanged London in 1984.
Though the novel deals with the future, it concentrates not on technology nor on totalitarian government but on a government where no one cares what happens, comparable to Fahrenheit 451 in that respect.
The dreary succession of randomly selected Kings of England is broken up when Auberon Quin, who cares for nothing but a good joke, is chosen. To amuse himself, he institutes elaborate costumes for the provosts of the districts of London. All are bored by the King's antics except for one earnest young man who takes the cry for regional pride seriously - Adam Wayne, the eponymous Napoleon of Notting Hill.
While the novel is humorous (one instance has the King sitting on top of an omnibus and speaking to it as to a horse: "Forward, my beauty, my Arab," he said, patting the omnibus encouragingly, "fleetest of all thy bounding tribe"), it is also an adventure story: Chesterton is not afraid to let blood be drawn in his battles, fought with sword and halberd in the London streets, and Wayne thinks up a few ingenious strategies; and, finally, the novel is philosophical, considering the value of one man's actions and the virtue of respect for one's enemies.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton (29 May 1874 - 14 June 1936) was one of the most influential English writers of the 20th century. His prolific and diverse output included journalism, philosophy, poetry, biography, Christian apologetics, fantasy and detective fiction. Chesterton has been called the "prince of paradox." Time magazine, in a review of a biography of Chesterton, observed of his writing style: "Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out." For example, Chesterton wrote the following: Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it. Chesterton is well known for his reasoned apologetics and even those who disagree with him have recognized the universal appeal of such works as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. Chesterton, as political thinker, cast aspersions on both Liberalism and Conservatism, saying: The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected. Chesterton routinely referred to himself as an "orthodox" Christian, and came to identify such a position with Catholicism more and more, eventually converting to Roman Catholicism. George Bernard Shaw, Chesterton's "friendly enemy" according to Time, said of him, "He was a man of colossal genius".
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