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Manalive is one of G. K. Chesterton's most popular novels, and one of his most explicitly religious works of fiction.
This novel expresses the author's philosophical and religious philosophy, and his ideas of Christianity and the 'holy fool'. Divided into two parts, each of which follow the adventures and exploits of Innocent Smith, an unusual and mysterious tenant who suddenly appears in London's Beacon House lodging rooms. Markedly eccentric, Smith is soon the centre of attraction in the formerly ordinary residences. He also creates the post of the High Court of Beacon as a means of settling disputes between the residents.
Although Smith's antics result in a general increase of harmony and good relations within the residence, the plot thickens when doctors arrive with the news that he is wanted for several charges. Thus he is referred to his self-created High Court, and the drama over whether Innocent Smith is guilty or - as his name suggests - innocent begins.
On the surface a lighthearted comedy of mystery, Manalive is significant for echoing past works of literature such as Dostoyevsky's The Idiot, whilst at the same time retaining a philosophical undercurrent.
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