Posts Tagged ‘Four Men’

Adventures in Bookland: The Four Men by Hilaire Belloc

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

The book is subtitled ‘A Farrago’ and, it is. The OED defines ‘farrago’ as a ‘confused mixture’ and that’s as accurate a one-word description of this book as I could come up with. No wonder then that Belloc, a better writer than I’ll ever be, came up with the description himself. But I still don’t understand what he was trying to do with this book: part hymn to home (in Belloc’s case, the county of Sussex), part debate in four voices, part knockabout philosophy and theological knockabout, part travelogue; trying to shoehorn all these elements, and more, between the covers of a single book has, pretty well inevitably, produced the advertised farrago. Belloc’s facility with words and the sheer energy he infuses into them dragged me through to the end – and I particularly enjoyed the delightful line drawings that enriched my edition (I couldn’t tell if they were by Belloc himself) – but I can’t say I’d recommend The Four Men to anyone other than a real Belloc completist.