Friday, March 10, 2023

Thoughts on The Eye of Apollo from The Innocence of Father Brown by GK Chesterton

Thoughts on The Eye of Apollo from The Innocence of Father Brown by GK Chesterton

First published in The Saturday Evening Post (February 25, 1911) and then in The Innocence of Father Brown collection (1911). This edition: The Complete Father Brown Mysteries (Carousel Books, 2021). SPOILERS AHEAD?

Chesterton certainly does know how to paint a heckuva pretty picture, his settings in particular. This begins no differently except for that it does. This setting is modern. Neither quaint nor colloquial, and defined within text thusly as American. "The building was American in its sky-scraping altitude, and American also in the oiled elaboration of telephones and lifts."

America then (new) insofar as new worlds and gods, or one in particular at the least and on display here. I'm not a Neil Gaiman fan by any means, at least not of his more recent work) but his American Gods is on my list of must-reads so please see that you do. I'm put in mind of that here. Also, I am put in mind of old gods by way of our little priest and his soul-saved large friend. The former coming from a deathbed and the latter to his new spiffy private detective office in said American building.

We also get a J. for Father Brown's first initial and is that our first clue as to his given name? Not really, as later in canon his name is said to be Paul. Thus far along I only have that much info at my meager disposal. Nevertheless...

There is a greater femininity to this tale. There are women, and they are sisters, and they speak and they play no small roles. Chesterton writes them up as well as any other character he writes up, however, the way they interact in dialog and otherwise seems lesser-than at times. There is also a (false) prophet occultist/cult leader, the 'sun man' as Brown puts it. He is only a bit smaller and infinitely more beautiful than our swarthy giant Flambeau and we just know they will square off in some fashion. Again, the old and the new.

It's the prophet who spells this all out nicely when he addresses Brown with: "I adore the sun, and you are the darkening of the sun; you are the priest of the dying and I of the living God."

We actually never do get the Flambeau vs. Kalon boss-fight of our expectations. Instead, we get the prophet vs. his own self in a way. That way is via a bit stilted of a monologue. Pauline, his significant other as we'd call it, was in fact murdered. Although her own sister Joan... well, you should read this one yourself. The clear takeaway from this little tale is kinda simply to be 'seen' as the age-old advice of 'Don't stare at the sun.' 

::: very :::