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The Napoleon of Notting Hill…

August 4th, 2010 by Peter

“Rather heavy reading at the begininng but it is exceedingly interesting later. G. K. C style is very impressive and smooth.

He is witty and philosophical throughout the book. (an absurd philosophy) The last chapter is of particular interest with its moral.”

- H. C. Baker, 1946

When I’d finished  Chesterton’s The Napoleon of Notting Hill I found the review above pencilled in after the last paragraph. I like that 64 years ago this person read the same copy and thought  they’d make a note of their views on the book; perhaps they then passed the book on or perhaps they kept it and just wrote the review for their own memory, but I’m thinking they probably didn’t suspect that over six decades later someone would publish it on a computer (which at the time had existed solely to crack Enigma) and make it visible to the world.

I found the book a very good read, I’d definitely agree that it was both exceedingly interesting and philosophical but I didn’t think it was heavy reading at the start. It was amusing and fun but I particularly liked how Chesterton managed to play with so many styles; the whole concept was comic but at the same time he played with action and stirring speeches, particularly from the Adam Wayne character, that were at the same time Shakespearean in style and yet surreally amusing. The author really gives free reign to his imagination and creates an action comedy that at the same time manages to make pithy commentary on human nature.

4 Responses to “The Napoleon of Notting Hill…”

  1. Katja says:

    I love finding notes in the margins. I don’t understand why some people get so precious about books – my brother can’t even bear to break the spines on his. For me, a book is there to be read and loved, and signs of wear and tear only add to its charm. My favourite cookery book is covered in food splashes and some of my most treasured plays are absolutely *covered* in scribblings. Finding notes from more than 60 years ago would be fabulous – a bit like leaping into a time machine …

  2. Peter says:

    I confuse myself – if I have bought a new book I like to keep it in good condition. Most of the new books I’ve bought are sat on my bookshelf as though they were fresh from the shop. Yet I love my old ones precisely because they’re aged and have character. Quite a paradox. I am tempted to pencil in reviews now though, in the hope someone might pick it up later! :)

  3. Huwie says:

    Ha! Isn’t that great? I heard a wonderful true story beginning with the notes scribbled in the margin of a book, the other day. (Sadly far too long to share here!)

    You aint going to find that with a Kindle in 60 years time are you?!

  4. Peter says:

    Huwie – so rimght, it’s another of the magical things about print books. It’s a shame the story is too long.

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