Pagan Wasteneys is the main character in Richard Le Gallienne’s 1901 book titled The Love-Letters of the King, or the Life Romantic. Everything in the book revolves around Pagan, although he isn’t the narrator – the author is. The book is a glimpse into the life, logic, and reason behind Pagan Wasteneys, who stands for all romantics of the time.
Pagan lives the so-called life romantic, seeking out romance in every aspect of his life – from his own poetry to the way Adeline, a girl he likes simply because a man is supposed to like a girl because it’s romantic, binds books in her tiny apartment for a living.
The love letters of the king are Pagan’s attempt at writing a romantic story, involving a king of course, to fit in with his view of the newly romantic society at the end of the Victorian Era in England and the beginning of the Edwardian Era.
Pagan has a lot of lady friends, to put it mildly. He never really talks about any other men. The story starts with him professing his earth-shattering love for one Daisy Mendoza who he met precisely two hours ago. After that, he moves on to Adeline, Meriel, and a few others that were very much passing fancies in his life.
I have to admit that I don’t know if Pagan found his true romantic love. I don’t know because I didn’t finish the book. About two-thirds of the way through, the story took a break from Pagan’s doings to print the long, complicated, and dull “love-letters” that Pagan had written. I lost interest then. I did, however, skim to the last few pages and Adeline was mentioned in the last line and she wasn’t doing her book binding anymore. I figured she was the one Pagan liked best of all…