Thursday, October 25, 2007


Chesterton's ability to weave astonishing paradoxes, marvelous truths and perfect humor into a engaging, educating and incredible story is astounding, and in Manalive he certainly puts his gifts to work.

Innocent Smith is a mystery. Literally blown in to the story by a great wind, he begins climbing trees, spouting nonsensical English, retrieving hats and creating a general feeling cheerfulness as soon as his feet touch ground. In the course of the next few pages, this atmosphere becomes more pronounced and by the middle of chapter four all of the principle characters are engaged to one and other. Thus a happily-ever-after ending seems just around the corner. However before that can become a reality we meet several crime-specialists who introduce a startling series of accusations which question the Innocence of Inoccent. In a makeshift courtroom, the charges of murder, burglary, desertion and polygamy are brought to the doorstep of Mr. Smith. His freedom seems, to put it midly, lost. But, as one of my friends once said, "surprises are the hallmark of the Sage of Beaconsfield*", and as someone who I would greatly like to call my friend once said "things are not always as they seem." Although none of the evidence against Smith is false, he is indeed as blameless as his name suggests. As we learn near the end of the book "he has broken the conventions but he has kept the commandments."

However, the basic storyline can only give you the faintest of ideas of how hilarious and how true and thoughtful this marvelous book is. If you don't own a copy, you can read it here. Just read a few paragraphs whenever you have a spare minute, it is well worth your time.

1 comment:

Algernon said...

Well spoken!