Napoleon of Notting Hill (Chesterton)
Author: Gilbert Keith Chesterton
Description: 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 from a list to be king. Auberon Quin, a government clerk, something of an aesthete and even more of a joker, becomes king. Purely for his own entertainment he transforms the boroughs of London into medieval city states, with heraldic coats of arms and colourfully uniformed guards, governed by provosts in splendid robes. Then he encounters Adam Wayne, the dedicated young Provost of Notting Hill, who takes Quin's ideas more seriously than the king himself. When the other boroughs try to force a new road through Notting Hill, Wayne, convinced that small is beautiful, fights to defend his territory. Chesterton enacts arguments about the nature of human loyalties that are still current, glorifying the little man, while attacking big business and the monolithic state.