New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, . Early edition. 12mo., original red cloth lettered in black, original dust jacket. About-fine book, bright and clean dust jacket with only modest edge-wear. An excellent copy. Item #617
"'I HAVE TO DO WITH ENGLAND,' SAID FATHER BROWN, 'I COME FROM THERE. AND THE FUNNIEST THING OF ALL IS THAT EVEN IF YOU LOVE AND BELONG TO IT, YOU STILL CAN'T MAKE HEAD OR TAIL OF IT.'" Handsome early American edition collecting the stories of Father Brown, G.K. Chesterton's beloved fictional priest-detective. The title page, referencing all five of the original Father Brown books, promises all fifty of Chesterton's Father Brown stories, beginning with The Blue Cross and concluding with The Insoluble Problem. 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). Many observers have contrasted Chesterton's "Catholic detective" with Conan Doyle's "Protestant detective": "Father Brown is a Catholic who pokes fun at the mechanical thought processes of the Protestants and the book is basically an apologia of the Roman Church as against the Anglican Church. Sherlock Holmes is the 'Protestant' detective who finds the end of the criminal skein by starting from the outside, relying on science, on experimental method, on induction. Father Brown is the Catholic priest who through the refined psychological experiences offered by confession and by the persistent activity of the fathers' moral casuistry, though not neglecting science and experimentation, but relying especially on deduction and introspection" (Antonio Gramsci, Letters from Prison). A brief Foreword describes Father John O'Connor as the inspiration for Chesterton's little cleric-cum-detective. Chesterton and O'Connor first met in 1904 and maintained a life-long friendship as Chesterton's inched his way towards conversion. It was Father O'Connor who finally received Chesterton into the Catholic Church in 1922, followed by his wife, Frances, in 1926. Monsignor O'Connor was one of the presiders at Chesterton's requiem Mass at Westminster Cathedral in June 1936. Originally published in Britain as the Father Brown Stories (1929), and then again in America by Dodd Mead in 1933. The Detective Book Club, distributed by Dodd, Mead, also published editions collecting Agatha Christie, Earle Stanley Gardner, and Rex Stout. Sullivan, 861.