ABSTRACT

In portraying the battle to save the soul of Notting Hill—to save the identity of the city—G. K. Chesterton set it in a medieval time-warp. It was not, however, merely romantic medievalism. In the silent darkness at the close of the story a philosophising voice says, ‘And in the darkest of the books of God there is written a truth that is also a riddle. It is of the new things that men tire—of fashions and proposals and improvements and change. It is the old things that startle and intoxicate. It is the old things that are young.’ 1 The medieval architecture of churches and cathedrals which we still see can startle our minds and intoxicate our senses, and all the more as our world’s obsession with ‘fashion and proposals’ hides a tiredness and temporariness affecting deepest human potentialities. The final dialogue in Chesterton’s novel is heard by no one but the reader: it may be the same with this book, but it is warranted if here is ‘written a truth’. We may see it participating in all truth—but it will only talk of certain matters.