Der Held von Notting Hill
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Der Held von Notting Hill

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  1,523 ratings  ·  128 reviews
The Napoleon of Notting Hill is G. K. Chesterton's first novel. Published in 1904, it is set at the end of the twentieth century. London is still a city of gas lamps and horse-drawn vehicles, but democratic government has withered away, and a representative ordinary citizen is simply chosen for a list to be king.

Phantastischer Roman. (Phantastische Bibliothek, Band 156).
Paperback, 184 pages
Published 1985 by Suhrkamp Verlag (first published 1904)
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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...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...more
Sep 30, 2009 Werner rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
Don Incognito
Jun 01, 2013 Don Incognito rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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)...more
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...more
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...more
Jul 04, 2012 Annette rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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...more
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.
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.
The Airship Librarian
I am rather inclined to believe that G.K. Chesterton and I would have gotten along famously.
Rodrigo Cesáreo Pampin
¿Cual fue el problema con este libro? quizá que lo leí en ingles, y que sumado al lenguaje de Chesterton, a veces no sabia si no entendía el idioma o al autor...
Una cosa muy recomendable es que conozcas Londres, yo lo empece ahí, y cuando volví a mi casa lo colgué bastante.
Diria entonces, que no tiene una trama atrapante, pero que igualmente es una historia hermosa (y esa es la palabra correcta), y por eso le deje el puntaje que le deje.


What was th...more
Using the conceit of a future London splitting into neighborhood-based factions steeped in olde-timey grandeur, this book examines the meaning of nationalism, loyalty, and sincerity. It ultimately concludes that (view spoiler)...more
I loved this book when I first read it 20 or so years ago and loved it just as much on rereading it this weekend.

I do not share Chesterton's religious faith or his politics - I do not go to his books for endorsement of moral or fiscal conservatism. Although I occasionally find that unpalatable attitudes to gender, race and religion in his other works mars my enjoyment (e.g. I'm currently finding The Flying Inn just too Islamophobic to ignore), generally his ideology is something I can gloss over...more
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...more
Lisa N
A political satire written in 1904, about a futuristic London of 1984. The king is randomly chosen from among the citizens. Full of subtle wit, but I had somewhat of a hard time following the plot and quite frankly found it a little boring after the novelty had worn off.

Some of my favorite quotes—gives a sense of the writing style--

“The sane and enduring democracy is founded on the fact that all men are equally idiotic. Why should we not choose out of them one as much as another. All that we w...more
The Short: An under-appreciated satire, read this book for its quirky, memorable characters, moments of hilarity, and a few breath-taking passages of philosophic depth.

The Long: Not every book, in fact, probably very few in the world, can draw in a reader from the first page or even the first chapter. The Napoleon of Notting Hill fortunately stands out as one commanding that instantly intriguing factor.

The story is short, comparitively, but every scene, every character, and every dialogue is th...more
Gaston Prereth
The only other full length novel I've read from GK Chesterton is The Man Who Was Thursday and I've concluded that Chesterton is better at short stories than the full length novel.
The Napoleon of Notting Hill starts off strongly. Chesterton gives us some insights into politics, Monarchies, and patriotism in his usual whimsical way that is both thought provoking and funny. Chesterton at his best.

However, as the narrative develops the deeper more philosophical thoughts get washed away by only mild...more
GK Chesterton gets a lot of stick for being an arch-conservative, stolid and old-fashioned, supporting outdated morals, values, prose and beliefs at a time when modernism was shocking and delighting the literary world. In a way, this is justified. In the same way that, say, Gerard Manley Hopkins was a modernist who happens to have been born a Victorian, Chesterton sometimes seems like a Victorian displaced by about thirty years.

However, despite occasional moments of forehead-slapping sexism and...more
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Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) cannot be summed up in one sentence. Nor in one paragraph. In fact, in spite of the fine biographies that have been written of him (and his Autobiography), he has never been captured between the covers of one book. But rather than waiting to separate the goats from the sheep, let’s just come right out and say it: G.K. Chesterton was the best writer of the twent...more
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Orthodoxy The Man Who Was Thursday The Innocence of Father Brown (Father Brown, #1) The Complete Father Brown The Everlasting Man

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“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.” 72 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.” 21 likes
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