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Alton Locke, Tailor and Poet

Charles Kingsley

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Italy, or some other southern climate, where natural beauty would have become the very element which I breathed; and yet, what would have come of that? Should I not, as nobler spirits than I have done, have idled away my life in Elysian dreams, singing out like a bird into the air, inarticulately, purposeless, for mere joy and fulness of heart; and taking no share in the terrible questionings, the terrible strugglings of this great, awful, blessed time—feeling no more the pulse of the great heart of England stirring me? I used, as I said, to call it the curse of circumstance that I was a sickly, decrepit Cockney. My mother used to tell me that it was the cross which God had given me to bear. I know now that she was right there. She used to say that my disease was God's will. I do not think, though, that she spoke right there also. I think that it was the will of the world and of the devil, of man's avarice and laziness and ignorance. And so would my readers, perhaps, had they seen th. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This book is a little known early work by Charles Kingsley (Water babies, Westward Ho!) and is about a working man who goes to Cambridge via the Chartist movement. Alton Locke, tailor and poet,is a very annoying goody goody hero but there are some rather good baddies who get in his way, and a lovely

That cholera, although a condition alluded to in the background of Alton's experiences, might not actually have a large role in the story as I'd thought when I saw that Mackey's "The Cholera Chaunt" was reprinted within it. Seems its an example of a poem young Alton thinks of as poetic perfection. I

Started off good but devolved into pages of political haranguing and almost unreadable Scottish brogue before ending with three chapters on how loving Jesus will fix all of our societal ills.

Second reading: ditto.

It's not the best book ever but I love it anyhow.

The best thing about reading this book is reading all the books you can read after reading this book.

I wanted to read a book about tailors, so, well, here I am. Will I regret this? We shall see!

Update:
Boring and kind of smarmy because of the protagonist, though (of course) I liked the parts about the tailoring business. May pick it up again later.

As one of the first novels to really support the rights of the English poor its descriptions of both rural and urban destitution are interesting accounts that did influence some public thought. However, as a novel, Kingsley's tale is often long winded, dense and in the case of some characters unread