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G. K. Chesterton's "Manalive" is the story of Innocent Smith, who upon arrival at Beacon House, a London boarding establishment, breathes new life into the residents of the establishment with his games and antics. However it is soon discovered that Smith is a suspected criminal who is to be brought up on charges of burglary, desertion of a spouse, polygamy, and attempted murder. The second half of the book deals with Smith's trial in which rather curious and hilarious explanations are given for the charges against Smith. In this funny and delightful story, Chesterton explores the idea of the 'holy fool', a popular theme in Chesterton's work that also notably is seen in Dostoyevsky's "The Idiot" and Cervantes' "Don Quixote".

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