My Book Notes: The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond, 1937 by G. K. Chesterton

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Included in Delphi Complete Works of G. K. Chesterton, Delphi Classics, 2012. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 19605 KB. Print Length:  13857 pages. ASIN: B0087WMW0E. ISBN: N/A. The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond was first published in the UK by Cassell & Co., London in 1937, and in the US by Dodd, Mead & Co., New York in 1937. (The cover does not correspond to the edition I read)

b729629ef603af7596f39427867444341587343_v5Book Description: This is Chesterton’s final collection of detective stories, which was published after his death in 1936. Of the eight mysteries, seven were first printed in the Storyteller magazine, whilst “The Unmentionable Man” appeared in this collection for the first time. The stories concern a civil servant named Mr. Pond, who is described as a very ordinary and fish-like man who has a habit of startling those who meet him with paradoxical statements. He seems unaware of the oddness of his remarks, and his friend Sir Hubert Wotton explains: “he looks a very sedentary, scientific little cuss… but he’s really had very extraordinary experiences. He doesn’t talk about them; he doesn’t want to talk about them… but when, in the course of talking in the abstract he comes on some concrete thing that he has actually done – well, I can only say he crumples it up. He tries to crush it into a small space and it simply sounds contradictory. Almost every one of those crazy sentences simply stands for one of the adventures in what would be called by most people a very unadventurous life.”

My Take: To get a flavour of what can be expected, I quote below some  paragraphs from each story.

“The Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. Pawel Petrowski, an influential Polish poet and patriot, saved his life because the discipline of the Prussian soldiers was too good, “The whole thing went wrong because the discipline was too good. Grock’s soldiers obeyed him too well; so well he simply couldn’t do a thing he wanted”.

“The Crime of Captain Gahagan”. Captain Gahagan said exactly the same thing on all three occasions.“[All] three statements of Gahagan are exactly the same. They all mean the same thing; …..But they sound totally different according to which sentence comes first”.

“When Doctors Agree”. Pond said: “Funny things, agreements.” “Fortunately people generally go on disagreeing, till they die peacefully in their beds. Men seldom do fully and finally agree. I did know two men who came to agree so completely that one of them naturally murdered the other; …”.

“Pond the Pantaleon”. “I did not say it was a red pencil, and that was why it made such black marks. I said it was relatively a red pencil, or resembled a red pencil, …;  and that was why it made such black marks. The distinction may seem a small one; but I assure you the most enormous errors arise out of this habit of taking a remark out of its context, and then stating it not quiet correctly. the most ordinary and obvious truths, when reported in that way, may be made to sound almost absurd.” This is illustrated by a long ago episode that recounts Sir Hubert Wotton when Pond was entrusted with the security of some important documents that had to be moved from one place to another.

“The Unmentionable Man”. While eating oysters, Mr Pond “reminded of something relevant to the discussion by the sight of the oysters; or, more strict, of the oyster-shells. This question of deporting dangerous characters, even when they are only suspects, has some curious and baffling problems. I remember one rather queer case, in which a governments had to consider the deporting of a desirable alien– “. 

“Ring of Lovers”. Gahagan tells the story of a dinner party in which a ring disappeared. All the assistants were searched. But the ring did not appear.  When coffee is served, the host exclaims: “Gentelmen, do not touch this coffee. It is poisoned”. Despite it, one of the guests drink it and died, but chocked, not poisoned. The coffee wasn’t poisoned.  “The only reason for saying that was to make sure the coffee should remain in the cup, …”. The one who drink it “had put in a very large lump of sugar just before; but the sugar would melt. Some things do not melt”. And it is up to Mr Pond to clarify what had happened.

“The Terrible Troubadour”. In the dark, a witness claimed to have seen Gahagan murder a love rival during the Great War. The next day, Gahagan left for the front. In relation to this event, Pond says that “the most deceptive thing about a shadow is that it may be quite accurate.”

“A Tall Story”. During a conversation between friends, Pond recalls that, during the Great War, we persecuted the spies; and the spy-maniacs persecuted us. “They were always coming to us to say they had seen certain person who looked like spies. As a matter of fact, the enemy was pretty ingenious in keeping the really suspicious character just out of sight; sometimes by his being ordinary; sometimes actually by his being extraordinary; one would be too small to be noticed, another to tall to be seen; one was apparently paralysed in a hospital and got out of the window at night –“. When someone asked him what he means by a man being too tall to be seen, he has to elaborate its meaning a bit further.

One can always enjoy reading Chesterton, even when not at his best. The Paradoxes of Mr Pond is a collection of well-written short stories; some are quite ingenious, but others turn out being too obvious. And Mr Pond, as a character, is not as interesting as Father Brown. Anyway, I look forward to reading soon The Club of Queer Trades. Stay tuned.

Further Reading:

665

(Source. Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Cassell (UK), 1937)

About the Author: Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was born in London, educated at St. Paul’s, and went to art school at University College London. In 1900, he was asked to contribute a few magazine articles on art criticism, and went on to become one of the most prolific writers of all time. He wrote a hundred books, contributions to 200 more, hundreds of poems, including the epic Ballad of the White Horse, five plays, five novels, and some two hundred short stories, including a popular series featuring the priest-detective, Father Brown. In spite of his literary accomplishments, he considered himself primarily a journalist. He wrote over 4000 newspaper essays, including 30 years worth of weekly columns for the Illustrated London News, and 13 years of weekly columns for the Daily News. He also edited his own newspaper, G.K.’s Weekly. Chesterton was equally at ease with literary and social criticism, history, politics, economics, philosophy, and theology.

His most popular character, the priest-detective Father Brown, appeared in 53 short stories, most of them compiled in five books, The Innocence of Father Brown (1911), The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914), The Incredulity of Father Brown (1926), The Secret of Father Brown (1927) and The Scandal of Father Brown (1935), and three uncollected stories: The Donnington Affair (1914), The Vampire of the Village (1936, included in later editions of The Scandal of Father Brown), and The Mask of Midas (1936).

Chesterton wrote several other collections of what may loosely be called detective short stories outside Father Brown series: The Club of Queer Trades (1905), The Man Who Knew Too Much and other Stories (1922) The Poet and the Lunatics: Episodes in the Life of Gabriel Gale (1929), Four Faultless Felons (1930), and The Paradoxes of Mr Pond (posthumous, 1937).

Delphi Classics publicity page 

Las paradojas de Mr. Pond, de G. K. Chesterton

6423cf3ea75041b835d02c29ac665b72Descripción del libro: Esta es la última colección de relatos policiacos de Chesterton, publicada después de su muerte en 1936. De los ocho misterios, siete aparecireon por primera vez en la revista Storyteller, mientras que “El hombre indecible” se dio a conocer en esta colección por primera vez. Las historias se refieren a un funcionario llamado Mr. Pond, a quien se describe como un hombre muy corriente, parecido a un pez, que tiene por costumbre sorprender a quienes se encuentran con él con declaraciones paradójicas. Parece no darse cuenta de lo extraño de sus comentarios, y su amigo Sir Hubert Wotton lo explica así: “Parece un maldito científico muy sedentario … pero en realidad ha vivido algunas experiencias sumamente extraordinarias. No habla de ellas; no quiere hablar de ellas … pero cuando, en el transcurso de una coversación en abstracto, se encuentra con algo concreto que realmente ha vivido, bueno, solo puedo decir que lo hace insignificante. Intenta dejarlo reducido a un espacio diminuto y simplemente suena contradictorio. Casi todas esas frases alocadas solo representan una de las aventuras que la mayoría de las personas calificarían como de una vida muy poco aventurera”.

Mi opinion: Para hacernos una idea de lo que se puede esperar, cito a continuación algunos párrafos de cada historia.

“Los tres jinetes del Apocalipsis”. Pawel Petrowski, un influyente poeta y patriota polaco, salvó la vida porque la disciplina de los soldados prusianos era demasiado buena.“Todo salió mal porque la disciplina era demasiado buena. Los soldados de Grock le obedecieron demasiado bien; tan bien que simplemente no pudo hacer nada de lo que quiso”.

“El crimen del capitán Gahagan”. El capitán Gahagan dijo exactamente lo mismo en tres ocasiones. “[Las] tres declaraciones de Gahagan son exactamente iguales. Todas significan lo mismo; … ..Pero suenan totalmente diferentes dependiendo de cuál es la primera frase”.

“Cuando los médicos están de acuerdo”. Pond dijo: “Algo extraño los acuerdos”. “Afortunadamente, la gente sigue estando en desacuerdo hasta que un día mueren pacíficamente en sus camas. Los hombres rara vez están en total y completo acuerdo. Conocí a dos hombres que llegaron a estar tan completamente de acuerdo que uno de ellos naturalmente mató al otro; … ”.

“Pond el Pantaleon”. “No dije que fuera un lápiz rojo, y que por eso dejaba marcas tan negras. Dije que era relativamente un lápiz rojo, o que se parecía a un lápiz rojo,…; y por eso dejaba marcas tan negras. La distinción puede parecer pequeña; pero les aseguro que los errores más grandes surgen de este hábito de sacar un comentario de su contexto y luego repetirlo incorrectamente. las verdades más ordinarias y obvias, cuando se presentan de esa manera, pueden parecer casi absurdas”. Esto queda patente en un episodio ocurrido hace mucho tiempo que relata a Sir Hubert Wotton cuando a Pond se le confió la seguridad de unos importantes documentos importantes que debían trasladarse de un lugar a otro.

“El hombre indecible”. Mientras comía ostras, el señor Pond “recordó algo relevante para la discusión a la vista de las ostras; o, más estrictamente, de las conchas de las ostras. Esta cuestión de deportar a personajes peligrosos, incluso cuando solo sean sospechosos, presenta algunas particularidades y problemas desconcertantes. Recuerdo un caso bastante extraño, en el que un gobierno tuvo que considerar la deportación de un extranjero deseable –“. 

“Anillo de enamorados”. Gahagan cuenta la historia de una cena en la que desapareció un anillo. Todos los asistentes fueron registrados. Pero el anillo no apareció. Cuando se sirve el café, el anfitrión exclama: “Caballeros, no toquen este café. Está envenenado”. A pesar de ello, uno de los invitados lo bebió y murió, pero atragantado, no envenenado. El café no estaba envenenado. “La única razón para decir eso fue para asegurarse de que el café permaneciera en la taza, …”. Quien lo bebió “había puesto un terrón muy grande de azúcar justo antes; pero el azúcar se derretiría. Algunas cosas no se derriten”. Y le corresponde al Sr. Pond aclarar lo sucedido.

“El terrible trovador”. En la oscuridad, un testigo afirmó haber visto a Gahagan asesinar a un rival amoroso durante la Gran Guerra. Al día siguiente, Gahagan partía al frente. En relación a este suceso, Pond dice que “lo más engañoso de una sombra es que puede ser bastante acertada”.

“Un asunto de altura”. Durante una conversación entre amigos, Pond recuerda que, durante la Gran Guerra, nosotros perseguíamos a los espías; y los maníacos que veían espiás por todos lados nos perseguían a nosotros. “Siempre venían a decirnos que habían visto a cierta persona que parecía un espía. De hecho, el enemigo era bastante ingenioso para mantener al personaje realmente sospechoso fuera de la vista; a veces por ser ordinario; a veces, de hecho, por ser extraordinario; uno sería demasiado pequeño para ser observado, otro demasiado alto para ser visto; uno aparentemente estaba paralizado en un hospital y salió por la ventana por la noche –“. Cuando alguien le pregunta qué quiere decir con que un hombre es demasiado alto para ser visto, tiene que explicar un poco más su significado.

Siempre se puede disfrutar leyendo a Chesterton, incluso cuando no está en su mejor momento. Las paradojas de Mr Pond es una colección de relatos bien escritos; algunos son bastante ingeniosos, pero otros resultan demasiado obvios. Y el señor Pond, como personaje, no es tan interesante como el padre Brown. De todos modos, espero leer pronto El club de los negocios raros. Manténganse al tanto.

Acerca del autor: Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) nació en Londres, se educó en St. Paul’s y fue a la escuela de arte en el University College de Londres. En 1900, se le pidió contribuir con algunos artículos de revistas sobre crítica de arte y se convirtió en uno de los escritores más prolíficos de todos los tiempos. Escribió cien libros, contribuciones a 200 más, cientos de poemas, incluida La balada del caballo blanco, cinco obras de teatro, cinco novelas y unos doscientos cuentos, incluida una popular serie en la que aparece el sacerdote-detective, Padre Brown. A pesar de sus logros literarios, se consideraba principalmente un periodista. Escribió más de 4000 ensayos periodísticos, que incluyen 30 años de columnas semanales para el Illustrated London News y 13 años de columnas semanales para el Daily News. También editó su propio periódico, G.K.´s Weekly. Chesterton se sentía igualmente cómodo con la crítica literaria y social, la historia, la política, la economía, la filosofía y la teología.

Su personaje más popular, el sacerdote-detective padre Brown, apareció en 53 cuentos, la mayoría de ellos recopilados en cinco libros, El candor del Padre Brown (1911), La sabiduría del padre Brown (1914), La incredulidad del padre Brown ( 1926), El secreto del padre Brown (1927) y El escándalo del padre Brown (1935), y tres historias fuera de colección: El asunto Donnington (1914), La vampiresa de la aldea (1936, incluido en ediciones posteriores de El escándalo del padre Brown) y La máscara de Midas (1936).

Chesterton escribió otras colecciones de lo que podría llamarse libremente relatos policiacos fuera de la serie del padre Brown: El club de los negocios raros (1905), El hombre que sabía demasiado y otros relatos (1922), El Poeta y los Lunáticos: Episodios en la vida of Gabriel Gale (1929), El club de los incomprendidos (1930) y Las paradojas de Mr Pond (póstumo, 1937).

The Case of the Forgotten Detectives: The Unknown Crime Fiction of G. K. Chesterton by John C. Tibbetts

imagesI’ve come across the following article here and I thought it might be of interest to readers of this blog.

[Published in the American mystery journal, THE ARMCHAIR DETECTIVE,
(Fall 1995), Vol. 28, No. 4, pp. 388-393.] The article begins as follows:

Father Brown is by no means G. K. Chesterton’s only detective.
Less celebrated than the mild, dumpy little priest are other
investigators whose cases are just as exotic and methods just
as delightfully unconventional as his. To be sure, only a few
are professional detectives or policemen; more significantly,
most are what Chesterton cryptically calls “buoyant amateurs”–
retired judges, civil servants, escaped lunatics, and accused felons.
What unites them all is that, like Father Brown, they are
insightful observers and diviners of paradoxical truths.
They stand the world on its head. Sometimes, like Gabriel Gale,
they even stand on their heads. Their adventures, while wildly
uneven in quality, are at their best every bit as good as Brown’s.
A few are even better.

Unless I’m totally mistaken, Chesterton crime fiction short stories were mainly collected in: The Club of Queer Trades (1905), The Man Who Knew Too Much and other Stories (1922) The Poet and the Lunatics: Episodes in the Life of Gabriel Gale (1929), Four Faultless Felons (1930), and The Paradoxes of Mr Pond (posthumous, 1937).

My Book Notes: “The Man in the Passage”, 1913 (s.s.) by G. K. Chesterton

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Included in Father Brown: The Complete Collection by Gilbert Keith Chesterton. Feathers Classics, 2018. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 3292 KB. Print Length: 999 pages. ASIN: B07HCJ7XCJ. ISBN: 9782378076887. This short story was first published in McClure’s Magazine, April 1913.

9782378076887Book Description: Before Father Brown could turn in his heavy boots Seymour was plunging about the room looking for the weapon. And before he could possibly find that weapon or any other, a brisk running of feet broke upon the pavement outside, and the square face of Cutler was thrust into the same doorway. He was still grotesquely grasping a bunch of lilies-of-the-valley. “What’s this?” he cried. “What’s that creature down the passage? Is this some of your tricks?” “My tricks!” hissed his pale rival, and made a stride towards him. In the instant of time in which all this happened Father Brown stepped out into the top of the passage, looked down it, and at once walked briskly towards what he saw. At this the other two men dropped their quarrel and darted after him, Cutler calling out: “What are you doing? Who are you?” “My name is Brown,” said the priest sadly, as he bent over something and straightened himself again. “Miss Rome sent for me, and I came as quickly as I could. I have come too late.” (Source: Goodreads)

First lines…: ‘Two men appeared simultaneously at the two ends of a sort of passage running along the side of the Apollo Theatre in the Adelphi. The evening daylight in the streets was large and luminous, opalescent and empty. The passage was comparatively long and dark, so each man could see the other as a mere black silhouette at the other end. Nevertheless, each man knew the other, even in that inky outline; for they were both men of striking appearance and they hated each other.’

My Take: Out of sheer curiosity, I decided to read this Father Brown mystery, taken from The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914), included among the Masterpieces of Mystery, my post here. It hasn’t disappointed me in the least. In fact, I’ve decided to reading next all the stories included in the collection The Wisdom of Father Brown. Stay tuned. As far as “The Man in the Passage” is concerned, it is a great way to introduce someone’s to G. K. Chesterton’s great amateur sleuth, as I read somewhere. Besides, as I’ve read at The Grandest Game in the World, this short story was ‘Sayers’ favourite of the Father Brown tales, this story of murder in a theatre committed virtually before the reader’s eyes, with the conclusion given during a dramatic court scene, is technically perfect, with first-class misdirection. This is the story featuring Patrick Butler, later used as a sleuth by John Dickson Carr.’ Loved it.

About the Author: Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was born in London, educated at St. Paul’s, and went to art school at University College London. In 1900, he was asked to contribute a few magazine articles on art criticism, and went on to become one of the most prolific writers of all time. He wrote a hundred books, contributions to 200 more, hundreds of poems, including the epic Ballad of the White Horse, five plays, five novels, and some two hundred short stories, including a popular series featuring the priest-detective, Father Brown. In spite of his literary accomplishments, he considered himself primarily a journalist. He wrote over 4000 newspaper essays, including 30 years worth of weekly columns for the Illustrated London News, and 13 years of weekly columns for the Daily News. He also edited his own newspaper, G.K.’s Weekly. Chesterton was equally at ease with literary and social criticism, history, politics, economics, philosophy, and theology.

His most popular character, the priest-detective Father Brown, appeared in 53 short stories, most of them compiled in five books, The Innocence of Father Brown (1911), The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914), The Incredulity of Father Brown (1926), The Secret of Father Brown (1927) and The Scandal of Father Brown (1935), and three uncollected stories: The Donnington Affair (1914), The Vampire of the Village (1936, included in later editions of The Scandal of Father Brown), and The Mask of Midas (1936).

El hombre en el pasaje, de Gilbert K. Chesterton

Descripción del libro: “Antes de que el padre Brown hubiese podido darse la vuelta con sus pesadas botas, Seymour lo estaba revolviendo todo para buscar el arma. Y antes de que pudiera encontrar el arma o cualquier otra cosa, se oyó cómo unos pasos presurosos avanzaban por el pavimento exterior, y el rostro cuadrado de Cutler apareció en la puerta. Aún sostenía grotescamente en  sus manos un ramo de lirios del valle.
—¿Qué ha ocurrido? —gritó—. ¿Quién es esa criatura del pasaje?. ¿Es alguno de sus trucos?.
—¿De mis trucos? —siseó su pálido rival, e hizo un amago de abalanzarse hacia él.
En el instante en que todo esto ocurría, el padre Brown caminó hasta el final del pasaje, miró hacia abajo y se acercó presuroso a lo que había visto.
Los otros dos hombres dejaron su disputa y salieron detrás de él. Cutler gritó:
—¿Qué está usted haciendo?. ¿Quién es usted?.
—Me llamo Brown —dijo el sacerdote con tristeza, mientras se inclinaba sobre algo y se volvía a levantar—. Miss Rome me mandó llamar, y yo vine tan rápido como pude, pero he llegado demasiado tarde.” (Traducción: José Rafael Hernández Arias)

Primeras líneas …: “Dos hombres aparecieron simultáneamente en los dos extremos de un pasaje que corría a lo largo del teatro Apolo en Adelphi. La luz del día en las calles era intensa, opalescente y vacía. El pasaje, por el contraste, parecía largo y oscuro, de tal modo que cada uno de los hombres sólo podía ver al otro como una mera silueta negra en el otro extremo. No obstante, los hombres se reconocieron mutuamente, incluso con ese perfil oscuro, pues los dos eran hombres de apariencia llamativa y se odiaban.” (Traducción: José Rafael Hernández Arias)

Mi opinión: Por pura curiosidad, decidí leer este misterio del padre Brown, tomado de La sabiduría del padre Brown (1914), incluido entre las obras maestras del misterio, mi publicación aquí. No me ha decepcionado lo más mínimo. De hecho, he decidido leer a continuación todas las historias incluidas en la colección La sabiduría del padre Brown. Manténganse al tanto. Por lo que respecta a “El hombre en el pasaje”, es una excelente manera de familiarizarse con el gran detective aficionado de G. K. Chesterton, como leí en alguna parte. Además, como leí en The Grandest Game in the World, este relato, entre los misterior del padre Brown, era el favorito de Sayers, esta historia de asesinato en un teatro cometida practicamente ante los ojos del lector, con la solución dada durante un dramática escena ante un tribunal es técnicamente perfecta, con una distracción de primera clase. Esta es la historia de Patrick Butler, que luego John Dickson Carr utilizó como detective.” Me encantó.

Acerca del autor: Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) nació en Londres, se educó en St. Paul’s y fue a la escuela de arte en el University College de Londres. En 1900, se le pidió contribuir con algunos artículos de revistas sobre crítica de arte y se convirtió en uno de los escritores más prolíficos de todos los tiempos. Escribió cien libros, contribuciones a 200 más, cientos de poemas, incluida La balada del caballo blanco, cinco obras de teatro, cinco novelas y unos doscientos cuentos, incluida una popular serie en la que aparece el sacerdote-detective, Padre Brown. A pesar de sus logros literarios, se consideraba principalmente un periodista. Escribió más de 4000 ensayos periodísticos, que incluyen 30 años de columnas semanales para el Illustrated London News y 13 años de columnas semanales para el Daily News. También editó su propio periódico, G.K.´s Weekly. Chesterton se sentía igualmente cómodo con la crítica literaria y social, la historia, la política, la economía, la filosofía y la teología.

Su personaje más popular, el sacerdote-detective padre Brown, apareció en 53 cuentos, la mayoría de ellos recopilados en cinco libros, El candor del Padre Brown (1911), La sabiduría del padre Brown (1914), La incredulidad del padre Brown ( 1926), El secreto del padre Brown (1927) y El escándalo del padre Brown (1935), y tres historias fuera de colección: El asunto Donnington (1914), La vampiresa de la aldea (1936, incluido en ediciones posteriores de El escándalo del padre Brown) y La máscara de Midas (1936).

G. K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936)

th (3)Gilbert Keith Chesterton KC*SG (29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936) was an English writer, philosopher, lay theologian, and literary and art critic. He has been referred to as the “prince of paradox”. Time magazine observed of his writing style: “Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out.” Chesterton created the fictional priest-detective Father Brown, and wrote on apologetics. Even some of those who disagree with him have recognised the wide appeal of such works as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. Chesterton routinely referred to himself as an “orthodox” Christian, and came to identify this position more and more with Catholicism, eventually converting to Catholicism from High Church Anglicanism. George Bernard Shaw, his “friendly enemy”, said of him, “He was a man of colossal genius.” Biographers have identified him as a successor to such Victorian authors as Matthew Arnold, Thomas Carlyle, Cardinal John Henry Newman, and John Ruskin.

Chesterton was born in Campden Hill in Kensington, London, the son of Marie Louise, née Grosjean, and Edward Chesterton. He was baptised at the age of one month into the Church of England, though his family themselves were irregularly practising Unitarians. According to his autobiography, as a young man he became fascinated with the occult and, along with his brother Cecil, experimented with Ouija boards. Chesterton was educated at St Paul’s School, then attended the Slade School of Art to become an illustrator. The Slade is a department of University College London, where Chesterton also took classes in literature, but did not complete a degree in either subject. Chesterton married Frances Blogg in 1901; the marriage lasted the rest of his life. Chesterton credited Frances with leading him back to Anglicanism, though he later considered Anglicanism to be a “pale imitation”. He entered full communion with the Catholic Church in 1922. The couple were unable to have children.

Chesterton died of congestive heart failure on the morning of 14 June 1936, at his home in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. His last known words were a greeting spoken to his wife. The sermon at Chesterton’s Requiem Mass in Westminster Cathedral, London, was delivered by Ronald Knox on 27 June 1936. Knox said, “All of this generation has grown up under Chesterton’s influence so completely that we do not even know when we are thinking Chesterton.” He is buried in Beaconsfield in the Catholic Cemetery. Near the end of Chesterton’s life, Pope Pius XI invested him as Knight Commander with Star of the Papal Order of St. Gregory the Great (KC*SG).

Chesterton wrote around 80 books, several hundred poems, some 200 short stories, 4,000 essays, and several plays. He was a literary and social critic, historian, playwright, novelist, Catholic theologian and apologist, debater, and mystery writer. He was a columnist for the Daily News, The Illustrated London News, and his own paper, G. K.’s Weekly; he also wrote articles for the Encyclopædia Britannica, including the entry on Charles Dickens and part of the entry on Humour in the 14th edition (1929). His best-known character is the priest-detective Father Brown, who appeared only in short stories, while The Man Who Was Thursday is arguably his best-known novel.  (Source: Wikipedia)

Mike Grost on GK Chesterton: G.K Chesterton wrote five story collections about Father Brown. The best are the first, The Innocence of Father Brown, which contains Chesterton’s most ingenious paradoxes serving as detective concepts, and the third, The Incredulity of Father Brown, which offers his best put together impossible crimes. Chesterton’s impossible crimes in Incredulity all involve action – they focus on some ingenious way of committing murder, often involving moving both the killer and/or the victim’s body from place to place. Chesterton’s vision is architectural, as well, involving the layout of buildings and rooms. As in John Dickson Carr, Chesterton’s solutions are even more imaginative than the impossible problems themselves.

These books are among the high points of the puzzle plot mystery story. Chesterton’s fiction seems to be the main model for the great works of the Big Three puzzle plot detective novelists, Christie, Queen and Carr. (Keep reading here)

Selected bibliography: His most famous character is the priest-detective Father Brown. Father Brown appeared in 53 short stories, most of them compiled in five books, The Innocence of Father Brown (1911), The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914), The Incredulity of Father Brown (1926), The Secret of Father Brown (1927) and The Scandal of Father Brown (1935), and three uncollected stories: The Donnington Affair (1914), The Vampire of the Village (1936, included in later editions of The Scandal of Father Brown), The Mask of Midas (1936).

Impossible Crimes. “The Secret Garden”, “The Invisible Man”, “The Hammer of God”, “The Salad of Colonel Cray”, “The Fairy Tale of Father Brown”, “The Vanishing Prince”, “The Soul of the Schoolboy”, “The Hole in the Wall”, “The Arrow of Heaven”, “The Oracle of the Dog”, “The Miracle of Moon Crescent”, “The Dagger with Wings” are impossible crime tales, Many of Chesterton’s impossible crimes revolve around architecture. They depend on the geometric, spatial arrangement of their setting. (Mike Grost)

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(Facsimile Dust Jacket, Macaulay (USA), (1911) c1919 reprint)

The first of G.K. Chesterton’s books about seemingly hapless sleuth Father Brown, The Innocence of Father Brown collects twelve classic tales: “The Blue Cross”, “The Secret Garden”, “The Queer Feet”, “The Flying Stars”, “The Invisible Man”, “The Honour of Israel Gow”, “The Wrong Shape”, “The Sins of Prince Saradine”, “The Hammer of God”, “The Eye of Apollo”, “The Sign of the Broken Sword”, and “The Three Tools of Death”. Father Brown is a direct challenge to the conventional detective and in many ways he is more amusing and ingenious.

My Book Notes: The Wrong Shape, 1911 (s.s.) by Gilbert K. Chesterton

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Reading Time (2019). Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 3536 KB. Print Length: 1001 pages. ASIN: B07MZ6BNWV. Content: The Innocence of Father Brown; The Wisdom of Father Brown; ‘The Donnington Affair’; The Incredulity of Father Brown; The Secret of Father Brown; The Scandal of Father Brown; and ‘The Mask of Midas’. NOTE: This edition Father Brown: The Complete Collection has only 52 of the 53 Father Brown short stories Chesterton wrote.  The 53rd story is “The Vampire of the Village,” often included in some versions of  The Scandal of Father Brown, but not in this volume.

41xMeK3S3QLBook Description: ‘The Wrong Shape’ is a Father Brown mystery short story originally published in The Saturday Evening Post (10 December, 1910), one of the twelve short stories included in The Innocence of Father Brown, published in book form in 1911. In this instance Father Brown, of the small church of St. Mungo, accompanied by a very tall French friend of his called Flambeau investigates the death of the celebrated poet Leonard Quinton, whose body has been found in his study, together with a note that read: “I die by my own hand; yet I die murdered!”.

My take: ‘The Wrong Shape’ is a delightful account of a Father Brown mystery, included in The Innocence of Father Brown and available free in the Internet. It is one of my favourites and has all the characteristics of the series. The two plots encompasses both the investigative elements (the detection itself) together with the story of the crime. And Father Brown sums up very well the difference between a miracle and a mystery what looks certainly curious –for the time it was written– coming from a Catholic priest.

‘You call it queer, and I call it queer,’ said the other [Father Brown], ‘and yet we mean quite opposite things. The modern mind always mixes up two different ideas: mystery in the sense of what is marvellous, and mystery in the sense of what is complicated. That is half its difficulty about miracles. A miracle is startling; but it is simple. It is simple because it is a miracle. It is power coming directly from God (or the devil) instead of indirectly through nature or human wills. Now, you mean that this business is marvellous because it is miraculous, because it is witchcraft worked by a wicked Indian. Understand, I do not say that it was not spiritual or diabolic. Heaven and hell only know by what surrounding influences strange sins come into the lives of men. But for the present my point is this: If it was pure magic, as you think, then it is marvellous; but it is not mysterious–that is, it is not complicated. The quality of a miracle is mysterious, but its manner is simple. Now, the manner of this business has been the reverse of simple.’

My rating: A (I loved it)

The Wrong Shape has been reviewed at Past Offences

About the Author: Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was born in London, educated at St. Paul’s, and went to art school at University College London. In 1900, he was asked to contribute a few magazine articles on art criticism, and went on to become one of the most prolific writers of all time. He wrote a hundred books, contributions to 200 more, hundreds of poems, including the epic Ballad of the White Horse, five plays, five novels, and some two hundred short stories, including a popular series featuring the priest-detective, Father Brown. In spite of his literary accomplishments, he considered himself primarily a journalist. He wrote over 4000 newspaper essays, including 30 years worth of weekly columns for the Illustrated London News, and 13 years of weekly columns for the Daily News. He also edited his own newspaper, G.K.’s Weekly. Chesterton was equally at ease with literary and social criticism, history, politics, economics, philosophy, and theology.

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La forma equívoca (1911) de Gilbert K. Chesterton

Descripción del libro: “La forma equívoca” es un relato de misterio breve del Padre Brown publicado originalmente en The Saturday Evening Post el 10 de diciembre de 1910. Es uno de los doce cuentos incluidos en El candor del Padre Brown, publicado en forma de libro en 1911. En este caso, el padre Brown, de la pequeña iglesia de San Mungo, acompañado por un amigo francés muy alto llamado Flambeau, investiga la muerte del célebre poeta Leonard Quinton, cuyo cuerpo fue encontrado en su estudio, junto con una nota que decía: : “¡Muero por mi propia mano pero muero asesinado!”

Mi opinión: “La forma equívoca” es un relato encantador de un misterio del Padre Brown, incluido en El candor del Padre Browny disponible de forma gratuita en Internet. Es uno de mis favoritos y tiene todas las características de la serie. Las dos tramas comprenden tanto los elementos de investigación (la propia investigación) como la historia del crimen. Y el padre Brown resume muy bien la diferencia entre un milagro y un misterio, lo que parece ciertamente curioso, para el momento en que se escribió, viniendo de un sacerdote católico.

—Sí —continuó el padre Brown—. Usted dice que es extraño y yo digo que es extraño, pero ambos queremos decir cosas opuestas. La mente moderna confunde siempre dos ideas diferentes: misterio, en el sentido de lo maravilloso, y misterio, en el sentido de lo complicado. En materia de milagros, esta confusión es la mitad del problema. Un milagro es admirable, pero simple. Simple por lo mismo que es un milagro. Es la revelación de un poder que dimana directamente de Dios (o del diablo) en vez de proceder indirectamente a través de la naturaleza o la voluntad humana. Aquí, usted dice que este caso es maravilloso porque es milagroso, porque es una brujería obrada por ese indio malvado. Entiéndame usted bien: yo no niego que sea un hecho espiritual o diabólico. Sólo el cielo y el infierno conocen las extrañas influencias que determinan los pecados humanos. Pero lo que yo digo es esto: si, como usted lo supone, es un caso de magia, claro es que será maravilloso, pero no será misterioso, es decir, no será complicado. La calidad del milagro es misteriosa, pero su procedimiento es simple. Y he aquí que, a mi modo de ver, el procedimiento de este asunto ha sido todo lo contrario de lo simple. (Traducción copiada de Internet)

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre el autor: Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) nació en Londres, se educó en St. Paul’s y fue a la escuela de arte en el University College de Londres. En 1900, se le pidió contribuir con algunos artículos de revistas sobre crítica de arte y se convirtió en uno de los escritores más prolíficos de todos los tiempos. Escribió cien libros, contribuciones a 200 más, cientos de poemas, incluida La balada del caballo blanco, cinco obras de teatro, cinco novelas y unos doscientos cuentos, incluida una popular serie en la que aparece el sacerdote-detective, Padre Brown. A pesar de sus logros literarios, se consideraba principalmente un periodista. Escribió más de 4000 ensayos periodísticos, que incluyen 30 años de columnas semanales para el Illustrated London News y 13 años de columnas semanales para el Daily News. También editó su propio periódico, G.K.´s Weekly. Chesterton se sentía igualmente cómodo con la crítica literaria y social, la historia, la política, la economía, la filosofía y la teología.