Tuesday 2 April 2024

Manalive! - G.K. Chesterton

ISBN 9781586174798
eISBN 9781681493237

While reading this I often thought ‘what in the world am I reading?’ I did not know anything about the book before starting to read it. And to be honest I almost gave up on it a few times, and came close to dropping it on the ‘ did not finish’ pile. But I know several people who are big Chesterton fans and members of the Chesterton Society. SO I knew there had to be something I was not getting. Prior to reading this I had read 1 short story, and a few books about Chesterton, and even a fictional story where Chesterton makes an appearance. So, I persevered, I am thankful I did.

I picked this book up at the beginning of the year in part I have had the intention of reading some Chesterton for a few years and had not really got around to it yet. And in part a priest I follow on X stated that they read it as their first book every year. As mentioned I really did not understand the book. At least at first, And I could see how someone would read it again. Thought I doubt it would be a book I read every year. The description of this story states:

“This classic novel by the brilliant G. K. Chesterton tells the rollicking tale of Innocent Smith, a man who may be crazy-or possibly the most sane man of all. Arriving at a dreary London boarding house accompanied by a windstorm, Smith is an exuberant, eccentric and sweet-natured man. Smith has a positive effect on the house-he creates his own court, brings a few couples together, and falls in love with a paid companion next door. All seems to be well with the world.

Then the unexpected happens: Smith shoots at one of the tenants, and two doctors arrive to arrest him, claiming that he's a bigamist, an attempted murderer, and a thief. But cynical writer Moon insists that the case be tried there-and they explore Smith's past history, revealing startling truths about what he does. Is he the wickedest man in Britain, or is he "blameless as a buttercup"

Beautifully written, mixing the ridiculous with the profound, full of hilarious dialogue and lushly detailed writing, Chesterton's main character Innocent Smith somehow manages to restore joy to all the dull and cynical lives around him. In this delightfully strange mystery, Chesterton demonstrates why life is worth living, and that sometimes we need a little madness just to know we are alive.

"Chesterton's truths play leapfrog with one another, but they always land squarely on their feet. Nowhere is this more apparent than in this hilarious story to which he has given the characteristic title, Manalive."
-Catholic World”

I am not a big fan of comedy in print, small, or large screen. And I am even less a fan of farcical entertainment. And this one definitely felt like that for much of the way through. I figured out what was actually happening about three fifths of the way through. And from that point on the story was much more enjoyable. By the end I did really enjoy this volume. But after talking to big fans of Chesterton's I would not recommend it as a starting point for the works of Chesterton.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2024 Catholic Reading Plan

Reviews of books about G.K. Chesterton:

Books by G.K. Chesterton:
The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904) 
The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare (1908) 
The Ball and the Cross (1909)
Manalive (1912)
The Flying Inn (1914) 
The Return of Don Quixote (1927)

Greybeards at Play (1900) 
The Wild Knight and Other Poems (1900)
The Club of Queer Trades (1905)
Tremendous Trifles (1909)
The Innocence of Father Brown (1911)
The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914)
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1922)
The Trees of Pride (1922)
Tales of the Long Bow (1925)
The Poet and the Lunatics (1929)
The Scandal of Father Brown (1935)
The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond (1936)
The Bodley Head G.K. Chesterton (1985) 
The Essential G.K. Chesterton (1987)
Daylight and Nightmare: Uncollected Stories and Fables (1986)
Collected Nonsense and Light Verse (1988)
Thirteen Detectives (1989) also appeared as:
Favorite Father Brown Stories (1993)
The Dagger and Wings and Other Father Brown Stories (1993)
Poems for All Purposes (1994)
Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton: Collected Poetry: Part 1 (1994)
Father Brown: A Selection (1995)
The Invisible Man: Stories from the Innocence of Father Brown (1998)
The Annotated Innocence of Father Brown (1998)
The Works of G. K. Chesterson (1999)
Father Brown of the Church of Rome (2002)
Lepanto (2004)
The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton: The Father Brown Stories (2005)

A G. K. Chesterton Omnibus (1936)
The Club of Queer Trades, The Man Who Was Thursday, The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1991) 
G. K. Chesterton's Early Poetry (2004) 
The Ball and the Cross, Manalive, The Flying Inn (2005) 
The Wit, Whimsy, and Wisdom of G. K. Chesterton, Volume 1: The Napoleon of Notting Hill, The Flying Inn, The Trees of Pride (2009) 
The Wit, Whimsy, and Wisdom of G. K. Chesterton, Volume 2: The Club of Queer Trades, The Man Who Was Thursday, The Man Who Knew Too Much (2009) 
The Wit, Whimsy, and Wisdom of G. K. Chesterton, Volume 3: The Ball and the Cross, Manalive, Magic (2009) 
The Napoleon of Notting Hill & The Man Who Was Thursday (2011) 

The Sword of Wood (1928)
The Blue Cross (1997)
The Ballad of the White Horse (2001) 
Magic: A Fantastic Comedy (2006) 

Heretics (1905)
Charles Dickens (1906)
Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens (1911)
A Miscellany of Men (1912)
Criticisms & Appreciations of the Works of Charles Dickens (1992)
Charles Dickens a Critical Study (2005)

Short Fiction
The Taming of the Nightmare (1892)
A Picture of Tuesday (1896)
Homesick at Home (1896)
A Crazy Tale (1897)
The Tremendous Adventures of Major Brown (1903)
The Awful Reason of the Vicar's Visit (1904)
The Singular Speculation of the House-Agent (1904)
The Noticeable Conduct of Professor Chadd (1904) 
The Eccentric Seclusion of the Old Lady (1904)
The Painful Fall of a Great Reputation (1905)
The Extraordinary Cabman (1906)
The Perfect Game (1906)
A Nightmare (1907)
The Curious Englishman (1907)
The Roots of the World (1907)
The Man Who Was Thursday (Chapters I–VIII) (1908)
A Somewhat Improbable Story (1908) 
The Angry Street: A Bad Dream (1909)
The Giant (1908)
The Long Bow (1908)
How I Found the Superman (1908) 
Dukes (1909)
The Secret Garden (1910)
The Sign of the Broken Sword (1911)
The Invisible Man (1911)
The Sins of Prince Saradine (1911)
The Absence of Mr. Glass (1912)
Magic: A Fantastic Comedy (1913) 
The Sword of Wood (1913)
The Man in the Passage (1914) 
The Perishing of the Pendragons (1914)
The Salad of Colonel Cray (1914)
The Five of Swords (1919)
The Conversion of an Anarchist (1919)
The Garden of Smoke (1919)
The Finger of Stone (1920) 
The Man Who Shot the Fox (1921)
The Shadow of the Shark (1921)
The Bottomless Well (1922)
The Face in the Target (1922)
The Fad of the Fisherman (1922)
The Fool of the Family (1922)
The Hole in the Wall (1922)
The Soul of the Schoolboy (1922)
The Temple of Silence (1922)
The Tower of Babel (1922) 
The Tower of Treason (1922)
The Trees of Pride (1922) 
The Vanishing Prince (1922)
The House of the Peacock (1922) 
The Vengeance of a Statue (1922)
The Oracle of the Dog (1923):
The Dragon at Hide-and-Seek (1924)
The Coloured Lands (1925)
The Elusive Companion of Parson White (1925)
The Exclusive Luxury of Enoch Oates (1925)
The Improbable Success of Mr. Owen Hood (1925)
The Ultimate Ultimatum of the League of the Long Bow (1925)
The Unobtrusive Traffic of Captain Pierce (1925)
The Unprecedented Architecture of Commander Blair (1925)
The Unpresentable Appearance of Colonel Crane (1925)
The Unthinkable Theory of Professor Green (1925)
Dr. Hyde, Detective, and the White Pillars Murder (1925)
The Paradise of Human Fishes (1925)
Concerning Grocers As Gods (1925)
A Real Discovery (1925)
Chivalry Begins at Home (1925)
A Fish Story (1925)
A Legend of Saint Francis (1926)
The Two Taverns (1926)
On Private Property (1927)
The Great Amalgamation (1927)
Culture and the Light (1927)
The Second Miracle (1927)
On Secular Education (1928)
The Three Dogs (1928)
The Legend of the Sword (1928)
If Don John of Austria had Married Mary Queen of Scots (1931)
The End of Wisdom (1931)
The Blast of the Book (1933)

Thou Shalt Not Kill (1899) 
'Vulgarised' (1900)
A Chord of Colour (1900)
A Christmas Carol (1900)
A Dedication: To E.C.B. (1900) 
A Fairy Tale (1900)
A Man and His Image (1900)
A Novelty (1900)
A Portrait (1900)
Alone (1900)
An Alliance (1900)
Art Colours (1900)
At Night (1900)
Behind (1900)
By the Babe Unborn (1900)
Cyclopean (1900)
E. C. B. (1900)
Ecclesiastes (1900)
Envoy (1900) 
Eternities (1900)
Femina Contra Mundum (1900)
Gold Leaves (1900)
Joseph (1900)
King's Cross Station (1900)
Modern Elfland (1900)
Of the Dangers Attending Altruism on the High Seas (1900)
On the Disastrous Spread of Æstheticism in All Classes (1900)
Skeleton (1900)
Song of the Children (1900)
The Ancient of Days (1900)
The Ballad of God-Makers (1900)
The Ballad of the Battle of Gibeon (1900)
The Beatific Vision (1900)
The Desecraters (1900)
The Donkey (1900)
The Earth's Shame (1900)
The End of Fear (1900)
The Fish (1900)
The Happy Man (1900)
The Holy of Holies (1900)
The Hope of the Streets (1900)
The Human Tree (1900)
The Lamp Post (1900)
The Last Masquerade (1900)
The Mirror of Madmen (1900)
The Oneness of the Philosopher with Nature (1900) 
The Outlaw (1900)
The Pessimist (1900)
The Praise of Dust (1900)
The Triumph of Man (1900)
The Two Women (1900)
The Unpardonable Sin (1900)
The Wild Knight (1900)
The Woodcutter (1900)
The World's Lover (1900)
Thou Shalt Not Kill a Certain Evening (1900)
To a Certain Nation (1900)
To Them That Mourn (1900)
Ultimate (1900)
Vanity (1900)
To Hilaire Belloc (1904) 
To Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1908)
The Ballad of the White Horse (1911)
Lepanto (1911) 
The Horrible History of Jones (1915) 
The House of Christmas (1916)
The Hunting of the Dragon (1922) 
Poem (1998)

Introductory: On Gargoyles (1909)
Introduction (Christmas Stories from "Household Words" & "All the Year Round") (1910)
Preface (Abishag) (1925)
Fairy Tales (1956)
Robert Louis Stevenson (1994)
Three Essays (1998)
Ghost Stories (2022)

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