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If pirates, jousting and horseback chases no longer appeal to you, you're too old or too boring. Adventure stories fell out of vogue among 20th century literary types who thought serious fiction had to be boring and depressing, but to those born with fire in their bones, adventure stories deeply serious.
Not serious like existentialism or keeping a stiff upper lip, but serious like Robin Hood—devoted to protecting the downtrodden, committed to Maid Marian, sworn to fight injustice as long as a soul is in his body, always laughing and ready for a fight or a feast.
G. K. Chesterton wrote adventure stories because they best expressed the eternal joy that supported his generous frame. For those raised on Modern Adventure Stories, joy may seem an inappropriate word for an increasingly dark genre, but the fault lies with those who think adventures are forays into evil rather than romps with Gilbert Keith.
There's nothing evil about a good adventure. There may be bad guys (there ought to be), but if the Good Guy does his job there'll be more of his exploits to talk about than theirs. Because, should he be doing his job, the Hero will be sword-fighting, being clever, wooing, chasing and laughing to the detriment of his enemies on every page.
Average people don't have the adventures Heroes in Books have—they have the adventures of Modern Men in Books. But the way through the prosaic troubles of life isn't to immerse yourself in them, it's to let the Good Guys show The Way Out of Problems, and do your best to imitate them when you meet the less dramatic, but no less real, dangers of everyday existence.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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