The Genius of G.K. Chesterton: How Borges Led Me to “The Blue Cross”

This personal literary essay on the great G.K. Chesterton, humorist, man of principle, theologian and finally, detective-story legend known for his (still-running) Father Brown series, is divided into a Part I which was followed by Part II on my Substack newsletter.

The essays centers on Chesterton’s 1910 classic, “The Blue Cross,” which was actually the first in the Father Brown series. In it, the stealthy little Essex priest navigates the great French detective Valentin through the streets of London with an odd series of inexplicable clues. The importance of the priest is known neither to Valentin nor the audience, being the first story in the series.

This is one of the reasons why I argue that Jorge Luis Borges, one pf my very favorite authors, rated “The Blue Cross” very highly when asked to compile a list of the greatest works of all time. I became fascinated with the story since that discovery, and for the current essay, did a bit more research on the Borges-Chesterton literary criticism connection and came up with what I think are interesting points.

Part 2 concludes with a wonderfully entertaining reading of “The Blue Cross” by English voice actor Simon Stanhope of the Bitesized Audio Classics Youtube channel, who was previously featured in my TLS newsletter when I covered the Irish author LT. Meade. If you’re a lover of Victorian and Edwardian classics of mustery, suspense, the supernatural and wit, there’s no better place to subscribe on Youtube to hear some outstanding renditions of rare classics than Simon’s chennel.