The Man Who Knew Too Much - G.K. Chesterton Find this ebook here at Gutenberg, and more about the book itself on its wikipedia page.For some reason I had the idea that this was one long story rather than a series of short stories - and looking back I'm not completely sure where I got that idea. Perhaps from the film(s)? I only have vague memories of the film (which means I probably haven't seen all of it and perhaps only read about it), but I think my half-knowledge of it was somehow the route I took to thinking the book was a single mystery.Instead it's a series of mysteries with an enigmatic detective-ish character, Horne Fisher. That he's detective-ish means he's not exactly your standard type - but then again, there is a standard for the detective to be an eccentric - so perhaps I'll be rethinking that too. Then again the eccentric is one of those often used types, as is the eccentric who seems to act in foolish ways but is actually wiser than anyone around him.With mysteries it's always hard to know how much of the plot you can freely discuss and how much is too much and would ruin it for the next reader...Perhaps a list?- even when the mystery is solved, you aren't going to get the ending you may expect- the class system is always present, and various classes always judge one another based on that ranking- questioning those who govern and the idea of what justice is People in authority often lie, etc. and then others cover up for them, making a long chain of people who must lie rather than have the truth exposed - often for the noble reason of protecting the country, but still, all built on lies.Contents (Stories):I. The Face In The Target II. The Vanishing Prince III. The Soul Of The Schoolboy IV. The Bottomless Well V. The Fad Of The Fisherman VI. The Hole In The Wall VII. The Temple Of SilenceVIII. The Vengeance Of The StatueQuotes:From start of the first story, The Face in the Target, our first view of Horne Fisher is right in there with the symbolism (and the story reminds us of this later, in case we've missed it):The man was apparently fishing; or at least was fixed in a fisherman's attitude with more than a fisherman's immobility. March was able to examine the man almost as if he had been a statue for some minutes before the statue spoke. He was a tall, fair man, cadaverous, and a little lackadaisical, with heavy eyelids and a highbridged nose. When his face was shaded with his wide white hat, his light mustache and lithe figure gave him a look of youth. But the Panama lay on the moss beside him; and the spectator could see that his brow was prematurely bald; and this, combined with a certain hollowness about the eyes, had an air of headwork and even headache. But the most curious thing about him, realized after a short scrutiny, was that, though he looked like a fisherman, he was not fishing.He was holding, instead of a rod, something that might have been a landing-net which some fishermen use, but which was much more like the ordinary toy net which children carry, and which they generally use indifferently for shrimps or butterflies. He was dipping this into the water at intervals, gravely regarding its harvest of weed or mud, and emptying it out again."No, I haven't caught anything," he remarked, calmly, as if answering an unspoken query. "When I do I have to throw it back again; especially the big fish. But some of the little beasts interest me when I get 'em.""A scientific interest, I suppose?" observed March."Of a rather amateurish sort, I fear," answered the strange fisherman. "I have a sort of hobby about what they call 'phenomena of phosphorescence.' But it would be rather awkward to go about in society carrying stinking fish."From the Soul of the Schoolboy, example of a reference to class and how such groups assess each other:...The colonel had passed the point of explosion, and he dimly realized that eccentric aristocrats are allowed their fling. He comforted himself with the knowledge that he had already sent for the police, who would break up any such masquerade, and with lighting a cigar, the red end of which, in the gathering darkness, glowed with protest.From The Bottomless Well:"You are wrong," replied Fisher, with a very unusual abruptness, and even bitterness. "It's what I do know that isn't worth knowing. All the seamy side of things, all the secret reasons and rotten motives and bribery and blackmail they call politics. I needn't be so proud of having been down all these sewers that I should brag about it to the little boys in the street.""What do you mean? What's the matter with you?" asked his friend."I never knew you taken like this before.""I'm ashamed of myself," replied Fisher. "I've just been throwing cold water on the enthusiasms of a boy.""Even that explanation is hardly exhaustive," observed the criminal expert."Damned newspaper nonsense the enthusiasms were, of course," continued Fisher, "but I ought to know that at that age illusions can be ideals. And they're better than the reality, anyhow. But there is one very ugly responsibility about jolting a young man out of the rut of the most rotten ideal.""And what may that be?" inquired his friend."It's very apt to set him off with the same energy in a much worse direction," answered Fisher; "a pretty endless sort of direction, a bottomless pit as deep as the bottomless well."From The Bottomless Well, Fisher and his view of the Empire, with a few stereotypes of ethnicity/religion thrown into the mix:"Do you think England is so little as all that?" said Fisher, with a warmth in his cold voice, "that it can't hold a man across a few thousand miles. You lectured me with a lot of ideal patriotism, my young friend; but it's practical patriotism now for you and me, and with no lies to help it. You talked as if everything always went right with us all over the world, in a triumphant crescendo culminating in Hastings. I tell you everything has gone wrong with us here, except Hastings. He was the one name we had left to conjure with, and that mustn't go as well, no, by God! It's bad enough that a gang of infernal Jews should plant us here, where there's no earthly English interest to serve, and all hell beating up against us, simply because Nosey Zimmern has lent money to half the Cabinet. It's bad enough that an old pawnbroker from Bagdad should make us fight his battles; we can't fight with our right hand cut off. Our one score was Hastings and his victory, which was really somebody else's victory. Tom Travers has to suffer, and so have you."Then, after a moment's silence, he pointed toward the bottomless well and said, in a quieter tone:"I told you that I didn't believe in the philosophy of the Tower of Aladdin. I don't believe in the Empire growing until it reaches the sky; I don't believe in the Union Jack going up and up eternally like the Tower. But if you think I am going to let the Union Jack go down and down eternally, like the bottomless well, down into the blackness of the bottomless pit, down in defeat and derision, amid the jeers of the very Jews who have sucked us dry—no I won't, and that's flat; not if the Chancellor were blackmailed by twenty millionaires with their gutter rags, not if the Prime Minister married twenty Yankee Jewesses, not if Woodville and Carstairs had shares in twenty swindling mines. If the thing is really tottering, God help it, it mustn't be we who tip it over."