Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Napoleon of Notting Hill” as Want to Read:
The Napoleon of Notting Hill
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview
Read Book* *Different edition

The Napoleon of Notting Hill

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  1,763 ratings  ·  150 reviews
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 N ...more
Paperback, 188 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Waking Lion Press (first published 1904)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Napoleon of Notting Hill, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Napoleon of Notting Hill

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. MontgomeryThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank BaumThe Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan DoyleThe Call of the Wild by Jack LondonPeter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Best Books of the Decade: 1900's
66th out of 247 books — 473 voters
Peter Pan by J.M. BarrieThe Cherry Orchard by Anton ChekhovThe Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank BaumThe Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix PotterThe Sea Wolf by Jack London
Best of 1904
6th out of 22 books — 25 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
Sep 30, 2009 Werner rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those who want a read that's off the beaten track
Shelves: science-fiction
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 ...more
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
Odd, odd 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 comes to pass because the hereditary principle has come to an end and an eccentric civil servant is chosen by lot to become the new Monarch. His creative reinterpretation of London place names at a public lecture (for example Hammersmith becomes the place where the smiths beat the knights from Knightsbridge with their hammers) i
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
Jan 24, 2010 Terence rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terence by: Wikipedia article
Shelves: sf-fantasy
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 ...more
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 humorous
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
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
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??
I don't know if it was because I was reading this late at night, or the fact that I was crashing from the high of finishing writing my own book, or what, but... I never thought Chesterton could bore me. And he did. Between the rambling speeches or 'jokes' that went nowhere, the nonsense-spouter becoming King and implementing a lot more nonsense, the lack of any solid plot (that I could see, at any rate), and the time jumps, the first half was trudge work. I skimmed the second half. Read the last ...more
“El género humano, al que muchos de mis lectores pertenecen…”, así empieza esta novela, la primera de Chesterton, marcando ya desde el principio el tono de este libro. Una historia enloquecida que se desarrolla en un Londres del futuro donde los reyes son elegidos por sorteo, al parecer con el mismo porcentaje de éxitos y fracasos que los hereditarios, hasta que le toca la corona a un ciudadano con un particular sentido del humor. La combinación de un rey bromista y un preboste, el de Notting Hi ...more
Don Incognito
Jun 01, 2013 Don Incognito rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: conservatives, Romantics
Recommended to Don Incognito by: Thomas Fleming
The Napoleon of Notting Hill is one of the best books you've probably never read. Even for some literature majors and heavy readers, probably; it was never required reading for me. Conservative intellectuals are familiar with it. That's how I heard of it--a reference from paleoconservative critic Thomas Fleming.

(view spoiler)
Apryl Anderson
(24.12.1993), A very strange read, similar to the Man who was Thursday. It was weird, surreal, fighting in the dark, etc. Fortunately, Chesterton makes his point at the end— what is reality? And is life funny? Well, he didn’t impress me with this one. Yes, our common, dull existence is ironic. We forget what we’re living for (some don’t even know). Is it worth dying over your own claimed territory? Is the patriot a hero or a madman?
The most impressive statement in the tale was in regards to Cru
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
Jul 04, 2012 Annette rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Readers of the "Emberverse" series as an alternate take on similar themes
The London of the "next century" has defied all the prognosticators by being precisely the same as the current London, only more so. That is, more atheistic, evolutionary, capitalistic, a-romantic, and basically dreary than ever - even as it remains populated by hackney cabs, gas lights, and horse-drawn omnibuses. Furthermore, having dispensed also with the foolishness of a hereditary monarchy, the king is now selected by pure lottery. Oh, and by the by, war has been eliminated! One Auberon Quin ...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in October 2003.

In some respects, Chesterton's first novel seems almost contemporary in outlook; in others, it is stuck in its time, now almost a century in the past. One of the great problems of our age (at least in the West), according to politicians, is political apathy; that is a link between today and the Britain of 1904. The Napoleon of Notting Hill is set in 1984, a famous year in science fiction, and the consequence of that apathy has been to turn pol
Chesterton's 'The Man Who Was Thursday' is - whilst heartily recommended - one of the most peculiar novels I have ever read. Having just read 'The Napoleon of Notting Hill', I can say it's just as odd but much funnier.

This is the author's take on science fiction, or perhaps a kind of anti-science fiction. Having taken time to dismiss such prophets as H.G.Wells in the opening paragraphs, Chesterton portrays a late 20th century where things are much the same as the early twentiesth century. There
Alex Stroshine
"The Napoleon of Notting Hill", Chesterton's first novel, has a fantastic storyline. In 1984, the boroughs and suburbs of London have been turned into their own little realms, swearing fealty to a mad king, Auberon Quin. Only Adam Wayne, a zealous champion, takes the idea seriously and he finds himself pitted against rival provosts who want to build a road through Notting Hill, which Wayne refuses to let them do. Trademark GKC themes, such as the romance of medievalism and tradition and the para ...more
Ea Solinas
Imagine a 1984 London where society has frozen at turn-of-the-century levels, a King is randomly selected from the populace, and nobody really takes politics seriously.

Of course, it only takes one wise, weird little man to turn all of that on its head. G.K. Chesterton's magnificently absurd comic novel explores a common theme in his books -- a person who entertains himself with an absurdly serious world -- in an increasingly heated situation where the little boroughs of London have become warrin
Joe Foley
"The morning was wintry and dim, not misty, but darkened with that shadow of cloud or snow which steeps everything in a green or copper twilight. The light there is on such a day seems not so much to come from the clear heavens as to be a phosphorescence clinging to the shapes themselves. The load of heaven and the clouds is like a load of waters, and the men move like fishes, feeling that they are on the floor of a sea. Everything in a London street completes the fantasy; the carriages and cabs ...more
Christopher Palmer
I'm typing up this review on a personal computer. Few people can appreciate how strange and wondrous this machine, which is at heart a glorified abacus, really is. This machine founded on math and mechanical logic has today a very wide range of applications, from simple clocks and calculators to video games set in highly detailed depictions of real locations. It's probably the most astounding of the many amazing inventions of the last century.

However, simulating natural intelligence using this m
I am far too drunk to be writing this. I read this book while stationed on the USS George Washington. The only memory that really rings true, is the one where the main character (first half) talks to the main character (second half) and the main characters (second half) says 'The last honest War was the Crusades'. Chesterton wasn't a Catholic when he wrote this book but in that sentence is basically his declaration to the Orthodoxy.

The entirety of this book is a plea to people to recognize the i
Rex Libris
Napolean of Notting Hill is an odd, but deeply intriguing story. While I have finished the story, I am left still trying to uncover all fo the lessons therin. The salient lesson of the importance in believing in something is important to a full, meaningfull life, but I think there is more to tease out of the story. It is more than just believing in something, I would think Chesterton would say it has to be believing in the right thing.

The story itself takes place in the future, which for Chester
Feb 19, 2015 Rhonda added it
Shelves: classic-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hmmm....not my favourite Chesterton...Yes it is inventive and rather clever but in some ways I think it was too much so.
The book presents England's future as a step back to its past and a amusing whim to recreate the boroughs of London as citadels of their own making leads to patriotic wars.
As a comment on the pointlessness of identity(if this was the books purpose) I guess it serves well as the chaos that ensues at the finale is based on a joke as's just in some ways I found sections
Not as elliptical as "The Man Who Was Thursday," but easily as enjoyable. Posited as an attack on the self-seriousness of Wells, and reads like Wells with a sense of humor (and a bit more intelligent as well). Not that I don't like Wells, too.
"The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up." So begins The Napoleon of Notting Hill.

An odd book. Philosophical, witty [to the point of absurdity in some points], and abstract. But I am attracted to Chesterton's ability to speak to his culture with a voice firmly rooted in his Judeo-Christian values.

Chesterton's first novel, written in 1904
An amusing bit of fiction by Chesterton. The first chapter sees Chesterton savage his contemporaries with wit. "In the beginning of the twentieth century you could not see the ground for clever men. They were so common that a stupid man was quite exceptional, and when they found him, they followed him in crowds down the street and treasured him up and gave him some high post in the State." The rest provides a very romantic view of the future, one in which Chesterton's own little England patrioti ...more
not merely the pellucid imaginings of a 20th-century notting hill (written in 1904), but also a provocative perspective on passion. i had little sympathy with the latter, but it doesn't matter. a great yarn.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Apologia Pro Vita Sua (A Defense of One's Life) (Dover Giant Thrift Editions)
  • The Four Million
  • On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature
  • Prester John
  • Common Sense 101: Lessons from Chesterton
  • Shakespeare of London
  • War in Heaven
  • The Complete Tales of Nikolai Gogol, Volume 1
  • Lord of the World
  • The Last Crusader: A Novel about Don Juan of Austria
  • The Ascent of Mount Carmel
  • The Princess and Curdie
  • Westward Ho! or, the Voyages and Adventures of Sir Amyas Leigh, Knight, of Burrough
  • Catholicism and Fundamentalism
  • Uncle Dynamite
  • Mr. Blue
  • The Black Star Passes
  • Father Elijah: An Apocalypse
Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was born in London, educated at St. Paul’s, and went to art school at University College London. In 1900, he was asked to contribute a few magazine articles on art criticism, and went on to become one of the most prolific writers of all time. He wrote a hundred books, contributions to 200 more, hundreds of poems, including the epic Ballad of the White Horse, fi ...more
More about G.K. Chesterton...
Orthodoxy The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare The Innocence of Father Brown (Father Brown, #1) The Complete Father Brown The Everlasting Man

Share This Book

“There is a law written in the darkest of the Books of Life, and it is this: If you look at a thing nine hundred and ninety-nine times, you are perfectly safe; if you look at it the thousandth time, you are in frightful danger of seeing it for the first time.” 76 likes
“The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up. And one of the games to which it is most attached is called "Keep to-morrow dark," and which is also named (by the rustics in Shropshire, I have no doubt) "Cheat the Prophet." The players listen very carefully and respectfully to all that the clever men have to say about what is to happen in the next generation. The players then wait until all the clever men are dead, and bury them nicely. They then go and do something else. That is all. For a race of simple tastes, however, it is great fun.” 24 likes
More quotes…