London: Cassell and Company, Ltd., 1911. First edition. 12 mo. (7 3/4 inches tall), original red cloth, gilt titles to spine and front board, uncut. Partially unopened, gentle foxing to edges and preliminary leaves, mild blemishes to cloth boards, gilt bright and corners sharp. A nearly-fine copy. Item #1273
"ALONE ON EARTH, THE CHURCH MAKES REASON REALLY SUPREME. ALONE ON EARTH, THE CHURCH AFFIRMS THAT GOD HIMSELF IS BOUND BY REASON" 25
First edition of The Innocence of Father Brown—the first collection of stories of G.K. Chesterton's famous "Priest-Detective." Nearly-fine in sharp-cornered, gilt-bright, original red cloth boards.
While on a lecture tour in 1904, Chesterton met Father John O’Connor. "It was Father O’Connor who opened Chesterton’s eyes to the Catholic Faith in a way he had never considered and patiently accompanied him on the spiritual pilgrimage that would follow. But he also became the basis for Chesterton’s greatest fictional character, and one of the greatest characters in all of detective fiction: Father Brown" (Dale Ahlquist). The Innocence of Father Brown was published in July 1911 in an edition of 5000 copies. Consisting of 12 stories (all had previously been published in the United States in The Saturday Evening Post), the book was illustrated by Sidney Seymour Lucas with a frontispiece ("Has Miss Hope seen that thing on the window?") and seven additional captioned plates. The motive behind Chesterton's creation of Father Brown was a sense of "the intrinsic wisdom of innocence...unobtainable to the naively cynical" (Joseph Pearce). Chesterton's mastery of detective fiction brought a distinctly Catholic element to a popular genre of the day. Chesterton was "the first man of our time to introduce the great name of God into a detective story...to enlarge the boundaries of the detective story by making it deal with death and real wickedness and real, that is to say, divine judgment" (Dorothy Sayers). But the influence of Father Brown extended beyond the Catholic Literary Revival and the detective work of Dorothy Sayers and Ronald Knox. "Indeed, whenever you think of the great detectives of mystery fiction’s golden age—Hercule Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey, Miss Marple, Ellery Queen, Philo Vance, or Nero Wolfe—remember their parentage. Remember that they had a father. His name was Father Brown" (Ahlquist). Sullivan. G.K. Chesterton: A Bibliography, 24, Ahlquist. Chesterton University Lectures, Joseph Pearce. Catholic Literary Giants: A Field Guide to the Catholic Literary Landscape.