Lisa N's Reviews > The Napoleon of Notting Hill

The Napoleon of Notting Hill by G.K. Chesterton
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Jan 12, 2012

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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 want for Government is a man not criminal and insane, who can rapidly look over some petitions and sign some proclamations.”

“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.”

“He never opens his mouth without saying something so indescribably half-witted that to call him a fool seems the very feeblest attempt at characterization.”

“He discovered that fact that all romantics know—that adventures happen on dull days, and not on sunny ones. When the chord of monotony is stretched most tight, then it breaks with a sound like song.”

“He has gone round the mental world, so to speak, and found the place where the East and the West are one, and extreme idiocy is as good as sense.”

“He has a great amount of intellectual capacity, of that peculiar kind which raises a man from throne to throne and lets him die loaded with honours without having either amused or enlightened the mind of a single man.”

“However much, physically, ‘about town’ a woman may be, she still models herself on nature….she models her hat on a flaring cottage garden of flowers. We, with our nobler civic sentiment, model ours on a chimney pot; the ensign of civilization.”

“A great chance is offered you of repelling that slander which, in defiance of the lives of so many artists, attributes poltroonery (cowardice) to those who beautify and polish the surface of our lives. Why should not hairdressers be heroes?”

“Nature has her farces, like the act of eating or the shape of the kangaroo”

“If what is achieved by all these efforts be only the common contentment of humanity, why do men so extravagantly toil and die in them?”

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