Manalive

I owe one of my regular port-swillers – and I just can’t think who it is – an enormous thank you for recommending G.K. Chesterton’s Manalive.

Based on a post or a comment I had seen somewhere containing that recommendation, a few weeks back I nipped over and bought a copy at the devil’s website.  Upon its arrival, the book sat about for some time on a table in my library, well back in the queue of things-I-meant-to-read.

Yesterday morning, I confess that I was in a pretty grumpy mood, my grumpiness being the product of a general frustration with the disappointments and drudgery of day- to -day living that seizes me from time to time.   Almost at random, I picked up Manalive and dropped it into my briefcase to begin on my metro ride into town.  Imagine, then, the effect of reading Chesterton’s opening description of the wind that blows no one any ill and its effect on the denizens of Beacon House, also trapped in the disappointments and drudgeries of day to day life!  I won’t say that I began to physically sing and dance out on the metro platform, but I can report with absolute honesty that I certainly did so within heart and soul.

And then there is Innocent Smith, the central character of the story so hy-lariously blown over the wall of Beacon House by the wind.  What amazed me at first is the fact that although I generally loathe the Idiot-Savant figgah in fiction, I was willing to take to him at once.  The reason? Well, I think it’s because the “truth” that Smith represents is the Real Truth.  “Oh, Lawd,” I hear you say, “Here we go.”  Well, yes, but look:  For years and years and years I knew that That Truth was out there, and every now and again I was able to get somewhat near to it.  These days, after *ahem* having swum the Tiber,  I find that not only am I more and more aware of it, but I am able to get closer and closer to it.   The effect is still overwhelming.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I can describe it adequately.  If I could, I suppose I would be writing books like….Manalive.

(By the way, I realize that those of you who have not read the book will not have the faintest idea what I’m talking about, and I apologize for this.  My advice is to go pick up a copy.  As for those of you who have read the book and still don’t know what I’m talking about, well, all I can say is that I pity you.)

Oh, and I’m afraid I have to report some less good news.  In my researches, I discovered that the President of the American Chesterton Society is the producer of a movie version of Manalive scheduled to come out later this year.  The story has been “updated” and set in modern Charleston, S.C.   Here’s the trailer:

I’m…..dubious.

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