Friday, June 26, 2015


"He [Chesterton] published his first novel in 1904, entitled The Napoleon of Notting Hill, the story of a war between the London suburbs, a story that grew out of Chesterton's meditations on the Boer War.  He considered this his first important book.  He once told how the book came about in this way:

I was "broke" - only ten shillings in my pocket.  Leaving my worried wife, I went down Fleet Street, got a shave, and then ordered for myself, at the Cheshire Cheese, an enormous luncheon of my favourite dishes and a bottle of wine.  It took my all, but I could then go to my publishers fortified.  I told them I wanted to write a book and outlined the story of "Napoleon of Notting Hill."  But I must have twenty pounds, I said, before I begin.
'We will send it to you on Monday.'
'If you want the book,' I replied, 'you will have to give it to me today as I am disappearing to write it.'  They gave it."

As found in Will Vaus' book C.S. Lewis' Top Ten, page 51

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


We have finished The Man Who Was Thursday, next up, The Napoleon of Notting Hill.  We will meet on Monday, July 27th at 6:15pm in the Trust Conference Room at the Library.  Send me an email if you would like a copy of the discussion questions.

Friday, June 19, 2015


One more post as a reminder that our Summer Read will take place on Monday, June 22nd at 6:15pm meeting in the Trust Conference Room at the C. Burr Artz Library.  We will be discussing The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton.  If we have a good meeting and want to continue reading Chesterton, we will read The Napoleon of Notting Hill for our July 27th meeting - same time, same location.

Monday, June 15, 2015


Our Summer Read will take place in one week - Monday, June 22nd at 6:15pm meeting in the Trust Conference Room at the C. Burr Artz Library in Frederick, MD.  We will be discussing The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton.

One of the questions from the discussion guide is to make a list of the allusions to British culture that Americans may not be familiar with: names, places, words, etc.

I have a decent list going.  In the last post the word navvies was used.

"Why do all the clerks and navvies in the railway trains look so sad and tired, so very sad and tired?

A navvy is an unskilled laborer in general and particularly refers to a laborer employed in the excavation and construction of a road, canal, or railway.  Navvy is a shortened form of navigator.  An internet search of the word will provide plenty of reading.

Friday, June 12, 2015


Our Summer Read is The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton.  I have yet to finish the story, but am enjoying it very much.  Below is a favorite exchange early in the book:

  Gregory resumed in high oratorical good humour.
  "An artist is identical with an anarchist," he cried. "You might transpose the words anywhere. An anarchist is an artist. The man who throws a bomb is an artist, because he prefers a great moment to everything. He sees how much more valuable is one burst of blazing light, one peal of perfect thunder, than the mere common bodies of a few shapeless policemen. An artist disregards all governments, abolishes all conventions. The poet delights in disorder only. If it were not so, the most poetical thing in the world would be the Underground Railway."
  "So it is," said Mr. Syme.
  "Nonsense!" said Gregory, who was very rational when anyone else attempted paradox. "Why do all the clerks and navvies in the railway trains look so sad and tired, so very sad and tired? I will tell you. It is because they know that the train is going right. It is because they know that whatever place they have taken a ticket for that place they will reach. It is because after they have passed Sloane Square they know that the next station must be Victoria, and nothing but Victoria. Oh, their wild rapture! oh, their eyes like stars and their souls again in Eden, if the next station were unaccountably Baker Street!"
  "It is you who are unpoetical," replied the poet Syme. "If what you say of clerks is true, they can only be as prosaic as your poetry. The rare, strange thing is to hit the mark; the gross, obvious thing is to miss it. We feel it is epical when man with one wild arrow strikes a distant bird. Is it not also epical when man with one wild engine strikes a distant station? Chaos is dull; because in chaos the train might indeed go anywhere, to Baker Street or to Bagdad. But man is a magician, and his whole magic is in this, that he does say Victoria, and lo! it is Victoria. No, take your books of mere poetry and prose; let me read a time table, with tears of pride. Take your Byron, who commemorates the defeats of man; give me Bradshaw, who commemorates his victories. Give me Bradshaw, I say!"
  "Must you go?" inquired Gregory sarcastically.
  "I tell you," went on Syme with passion, "that every time a train comes in I feel that it has broken past batteries of besiegers, and that man has won a battle against chaos. You say contemptuously that when one has left Sloane Square one must come to Victoria. I say that one might do a thousand things instead, and that whenever I really come there I have the sense of hair-breadth escape. And when I hear the guard shout out the word 'Victoria,' it is not an unmeaning word. It is to me the cry of a herald announcing conquest. It is to me indeed 'Victoria'; it is the victory of Adam."

Monday, June 8, 2015


On Monday, September 5, 1938, The Mercury Theatre on the Air, with Orson Welles, presented a radio drama of The Man Who Was Thursday.  Listen HERE.