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The Four Men: A Farrago Kindle Edition
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About the Author
- Publication Date : November 26, 2013
- File Size : 404 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 328 pages
- ASIN : B00GYDYYJA
- Language: : English
- Text-to-Speech : Not enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Page Numbers Source ISBN : 1115754688
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Simultaneous Device Usage : Unlimited
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #95,635 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Let us say that this long lost gem lacks the lapidary precision of most travelogues and herein lies its charm, because it is all of these and more. It allows us to experience a world long gone by and cannot be duplicated. Walking tours such as this are unknown in America, although some English associates do say that they are still done to some extent in the midlands and northern parts of England. What cannot be duplicated is the breadth, knowledge, and erudition of Mr. Belloc and his world. He might be called the last great essayist, although I hope to stand corrected and alerted to any additions to that list.
But back to this marvelous book it is the small conceits and prejudices that I find so amusing. Certainly his love of Sussex is bucolically described and there is a tinge of satire there. His prejudices? Well he does call German the language of the devil. Unrequited love? Between the pain that Grizzlebeard experienced and the results of the love, one can't help thinking that Hilaire is jesting with the emotions of young love.
The linguistic style may be a bit foreign to contemporary tastes since he was an Edwardian to some extent but once you acquaint yourself to his style, you will find a manner that should enhance your own way of expressing yourself.
The best parts of the book are the sections when you can really feel the love Mr. Belloc has for his homeland. Unfortunately you can also feel the dread he feels as he sees the land and his country changing for, in his opinion, the worse.
Some passages are truly beautifully written; the whole book is worth those paragraphs.
Modern readers are sure to be board at points during the journey but they will, none-the-less, appreciate the unique style of a one-of-a-kind writer.
PS: If you read The Four Men: A Farrago The Four Men: A Farrago and think you have had enough of Belloc's walking tales, you are wrong. DO NOT be dissuaded from taking up his classic The Path to Rome The Path to Rome . That volume is not just a Belloc masterpiece but is a masterpiece of modern era English literature.
Top reviews from other countries
In his introduction, AN Wilson asserts that Belloc is not read today because we cannot bear to contemplate his wisdom, "the wisdom of a man who says `I told you so' after the horse has bolted, and who is not entirely sorry to point out that the stable door, far from being better closed, was warped and torn from its hinges years ago." Rather, Wilson proposes that `The Four Men' "is like a series of happy snapshots taken at random before a cataclysm."
The novel is set over five successive days, starting on 29 October 1902, or the evening thereof to be precise. The place? `The George' inn at Robertsbridge on Sussex's border with Kent. Over the next few days, Belloc tells the tale of a group of four men who walk from this eastern outpost of Sussex to a western one at Harting on the border with Hampshire. In effect, the book is Belloc's homage to "this Eden which is Sussex still."
It is more than that, of course. Much of the book consists of each of the four characters telling tales, or "nothing but interminable stories" as one of them complains. The work has the occasional amusing moment, especially when partisan prejudices are involved, such as Belloc assuring his readers that whilst fair Sussex and its folk will not suffer on the Day of Judgement, "a horrible great rain of fire from Heaven" will strike all around, "and very certainly Petersfield and Havant, and there shall be an especial woe for Hayling Island."
There are words of occasional wisdom too, as Wilson attests, for instance the Poet asserting that the best thing in the world is a compound of "great wads of unexpected money, new landscapes, and the return of old loves." But what of that cataclysm that Wilson refers to in his introduction? Well, the clue is in the timing: set in 1902, but written in 1911, the novel frames the dramatic introduction of the motor car to the Sussex countryside. Wilson says that "Belloc knew he was immortalising a world which was soon to vanish forever; destroyed not by accident but by human folly."
This is all `true', but does that make `The Four Men' a good read? I read it after coming to know the county a little bit more. County places, county people, county traditions, and county lore are all contemplated as the four men journey from east to west. Stories and arguments abound between dawn and dusk of each day, or even between dusk and dawn. It is a novel of its time, certainly - it would be an interesting experiment to write something similar today - but for this reader of the second decade of the twenty-first century, I cannot hand on heart say that Belloc's tale is a riveting good read. But, then, I'm not from Sussex.