Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton: B+

From the back cover:
Full of enthusiasm, young English schoolmaster Mr. Chipping came to teach at Brookfield in 1870. It was a time when dignity and a generosity of spirit still existed, and the dedicated new schoolmaster expressed these beliefs to his rowdy students. Nicknamed Mr. Chips, this gentle and caring man helped shape the lives of generation after generation of boys. He became a legend at Brookfield, as enduring as the institution itself. And sad but grateful faces told the story when the time came for the students at Brookfield to bid their final goodbye to Mr. Chips.

This was a charming little novella that trod a little close to sentimentality sometimes but was nevertheless a pleasant thing to spend a morning reading. Hilton well conveyed the peaceful atmosphere of a British boarding school at the turn of the century, and also made some bittersweet points about everything that once seemed so important eventually fading out of collective memory.

I also liked the discussion of teaching itself, particularly as Mr. Chips at one point felt that he was capable of giving service but not inspiration—the very reason I myself recently stopped teaching. Having comparable experience, I can also affirm that this statement is completely true: “In my mind you never grow up at all.”

Many live action adaptations have been made of this book; it’s definitely the kind of story that one could expound upon without violating the intent of the original material. I think I shall be investigating some of them.

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