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G.K. Chesterton
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The Napoleon of Notting Hill

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  2,252 Ratings  ·  209 Reviews
The Napoleon of Notting Hill, Chesterton's first novel (1904), is set in London at the end of the twentieth century. It is still a city of gaslamps and horse-drawn carriages, but democratic government has withered away. When a government clerk, something of an aesthete and even more of a joker, is simply chosen from a list to be king, he sets the stage for arguments about ...more
Nook, 0 pages
Published by John Lane (first published 1904)
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Dan Schwent
Oct 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  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
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
D. J.
Jan 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Oct 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A rather clever book and from which I may not have gleaned all that I might.

Seemed to me to be written on two levels and therefore subject to two interpretations: sheer nonsense on one hand and political philosophy on the other.

It is set in London some time in the future when democracy has “advanced”. The monarch is no longer hereditary but selected at random. The choice falls on a minor government official who is so eccentric it is hard not to believe there isn't some blue blood coursing throug
Paul Brogan
Jul 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
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
Sep 17, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edwardian, humor, 1900s, london
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
Kevin de Ataíde
Sep 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
"This leadership and liberty of Notting Hill is a gift from your Majesty. And if it is taken from me, by God! it shall be taken in battle, and the noise of that battle shall be heard in the flats of Chelsea and in the studios of S. John's Wood..."

Absurd and priceless. Chestertonian satire is full of wit, dry humour and flagrant prose.
Douglas Wilson
I always enjoy Chesterton, although his fiction is usually too much of a jumble for me. At the same time, there are magnificent lines, pearls mixed in with the peas..
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
Ayu Palar
Aug 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
THE NAPOLEON OF NOTTING HILL. (1904). G. K. Chesterton. ***.
I really didn’t know what to expect from this short novel from Chesterton. My previous experience with his works included his ‘Father Brown’ short stories, and the novel, “The Man Who Was Thursday.” Both of those prior experiences were excellent ones. In this tale, Chesterton takes up about the first one-quarter of the book setting up the scene. It seems as if he wanted to create an alternate universe for the City of London where severa
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
Diana Long
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know what event occurred to inspire the author to write this work, and I don't know quite how to take it. Maybe he could see the future....he's laughing at us.

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, take
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??
Chesterton is obviously very witty and clever and uses a lot of literary "tricks" like allegory, metaphors, forshadowing, dramatic irony, etc. But there are times when it seems like he's trying so hard to be clever that I feel like saying what Shakespeare said in "Hamlet" "Less Art; more matter".

In my humble opinion and for the penny it's worth.

Sincerely, Laura-Lee (Rahn)
Zrinka Dragun
Duhovito ... oštroumno ... zabavno ... otkačeno :)
Da ne kažemo ništa o prijevodu ;) (nije što sam ja prevela :) )
Hezekiah Brown
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, rhetoric
This is an interesting exploration of what makes people passionate about things, and what keeps life from getting dull. Namely, love and laughter. Written in Chesterton's iconic humor this is a good light book for anyone looking for good material in a fun package.
Don Incognito
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  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)
Simon Mcleish
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
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
Jul 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Oct 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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
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
Lorenzo Berardi

Unusual and engrossing "The Napoleon of Notting Hill" kept me company amidst the chaos of Terminal 3 in Heathrow while waiting to embark on the first long distance flight of my life.

My impression is that Mr Chesterton was too much far ahead for his times but didn't care a bit having a good sport in poking fun at defying literary conventions.

This odd little novel could be read in many ways: as a satire of British politics and the frail concept of modern democracy, as a dystopian entertainment o
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More like 3.5 stars, to be honest.

This book is...odd. But I loved it? The last few chapter I was riveted and befuddled, trying to figure out what Chesterton was GETTING at. I'm still not completely sure.

Basically, in a benign dystopian future, where people just sort of go along to get along, and nothing either very good or very bad is happening, Britain has a system in which they arbitrarily (by lot or number) select a King, and he rules as a benevolent tyrant, approving public works measures a
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
Aug 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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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.” 91 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.” 31 likes
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