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THE PARADOXES OF MR POND (Annotated and With Active Table of Contents) [Kindle Edition]

4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond is the final collection of detective stories by G. K. Chesterton, the author of the celebrated "Father Brown". These short novels revolve around a civil servant named Mr. Pond. He is described as a very ordinary man who has a habit of startling those who meet him with outrageous paradoxical statements and who seems unaware of the oddness of his remarks.
Wonderfully plotted, these mysteries also offers some brilliant insights into human nature - "Love never needs time. But friendship always needs time. More and more and more time, up to long past midnight."

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About the Author

GK Chesterton was born in London in 1874 and educated at St Paul's School, before studying art at the Slade School. In 1896, he began working for the London publisher, Redway, and also T. Fisher Unwin as a reader where he remained until 1902. During this time he undertook his first freelance journalistic assignments writing art and literary reviews. He also contributed regular columns to two newspapers: the Speaker (along with his friend Hilaire Belloc) and the Daily News. Throughout his life he contibuted further articles to journals, particularly The Bookman and The Illustrated London News. His first two books were published; two poetry collections, in 1900. These were followed by collections of essays and in 1903 by his most substantial work to that point; a study of Robert Browning. Chesterton's first novel, 'The Napoleon of Notting Hill' was published in 1904. In this book he developed his political attitudes in which he attacked socialism, big business and technology and showed how they become the enemies of freedom and justice. These were themes which were to run throughout his other works. 'The Man who was Thursday' was published in 1908 and is perhaps the novel most difficult to understand, although it is also his most popular. 'The Ball and the Cross' followed in 1910 and 'Manalive' in 1912. Chesterton's best-known fictional character appears in the Father Brown stories, the first of the collection, 'The Innocence of Father Brown', being published in 1911. Brown is a modest Catholic priest who uses careful psychology to put himself in the place of the criminal in order to solve the crime. His output was prolific, with a great variety of books from brilliant studies of Dickens, Shaw, and RL Stevenson to literary criticism. He also produced more poetry and many volumes of political, social and religious essays. Tremendous zest and energy, with a mastery of paradox, puns, a robust humour and forthright devotion along with great intelligence characterise his entire output. In the years prior to 1914 his fame was at its height, being something of a celebrity and seen as a latter day Dr Johnson as he frequented the pubs and offices of Fleet Street. His huge figure was encased in a cloak and wide brimmed hat, with pockets full of papers and proofs. Chesterton came from a nominlly Anglican family and had been baptized into the Church of England. However, he had no particular Christian belief and was in fact agnostic for a time. Nevertheless, in his late

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 384 KB
  • Print Length: 166 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009FBW2YM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #428,375 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a true master at his very best 8 Aug. 2002
His last book, a collection of short stories told by a retired secret service agent , the eponymous Mr.Pond. They all share the same formula :Mr.Pond drops a strange remark, like "they alll wanted him to leave so , of course, they asked him to stay" that seems, by the end of the tale, utterly logical. As there is no political agenda in sight, it has some of the best detective story plots ever ( or so Borges belived) and his wonderful visual imagination is in top form , this one is not to be missed
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4.0 out of 5 stars Best Chesterton book of short stories? 10 Jun. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Heard some of these on BBC radio, so bought the kindle book. Very good value and stories with interesting twists that turn a seemingly illogical statement into a logical one. Best of Chesterton's short stories that I have read.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for all Chesterton fans 25 Dec. 1999
By Louise Dana - Published on
Each story in this collection is the gradual and entertaining explanation of some paradox stated by Mr. Pond, such as this one from "When Doctors Agree:" 'I once knew two men who came to agree with each other so completely that one of them, naturally, murdered the other, but as a general rule...." The story that follows is convoluted, thanks to Pond's digressions on society hostesses and what he calls 'the sanctity of really futile conversation,' but more than lives up to the high promise of that opening paradox. "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" is nearly as good and just as clever; the rest of the stories are good and clever, and would shine in nearly any other collection, but those two are so outstanding that they make the merely good look ordinary. Buy it! Read it! Read parts of it out loud to your helpless friends and convert them!
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still waters run deep 23 Dec. 2002
By Michele L. Worley - Published on
"Paradox has been defined as 'Truth standing on her head to attract attention.' Paradox has been defended; on the ground that so many fashionable fallacies still stand firmly on their feet, because they have no heads to stand on."
- "When Doctors Agree"
As Chesterton's fellow members of the Detection Club, Sayers and Christie, could tell you, his chief tool in the gentle art of misdirection - getting the reader running the wrong way - was the paradox. The Pond stories are only a few of the many examples of Chesterton's tricks in that line. Several have opening statements about paradoxes in general that are worth reading, over and above the cleverness of the mysteries or Chesterton's lyrical touch with language. (Like Lord Dunsany, Chesterton likes to illuminate the romance and poetry of quite ordinary settings and prosaic-seeming people.)
Mr. Pond is a bureaucrat who, wanting to cut his stories short, often produces odd paradoxical statements, which defeat the purpose as everyone then badgers him into telling the whole story. His closest friends are a pair of extremes. Sir Hubert Wotton, a colleague in Pond's nameless department, has no nonsense about him. Gahagan, on the other hand, has a robust '18th century' turn of phrase, and plays up to the image of a colorful Irish wit as definitely Wotton plays to that of English stolidity.
"The Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse" The Prussian marshal had both feet firmly on the ground, espousing the principle that the world is affected not by what people believe or say, but by what is *done*. Observing the practical effect of a great poet and musician upon the conquered citizenry, the Marshal paid his greatest compliment to the arts in sending a courier with a sentence of death. His plan might have worked just fine, if he hadn't had not one, but *two* soldiers who obeyed orders.
"The Crime of Captain Gahagan" Gahagan is popularly supposed in love with Joan Varney, but he's been spending an awful lot of time hanging around Olivia Malone Feversham, the actress. Her husband is 'something worse than an unsuccessful actor; he was one who had been successful'. In sort, Feversham doesn't bother with his career anymore, but only cares about suing people in the law courts for spoiling his chances. Not a good man to cross - and someone fatally stabbed him in his own garden. What looks worst for Gahagan is that 3 young ladies - among them the Varney sisters - have reported 3 different stories he told them of where he was bound that night.
"When Doctors Agree" Talking shop - international politics - with his friends, after Gahagan chaffs Wotton, saying he thinks everyone who isn't English is as alike as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Pond steps in, saying that how lucky it is that people generally go on disagreeing, and how he once knew two men who came to agree so completely that one murdered the other.
"Pond the Pantaloon" The background of this story is very cool: a conspiracy aiming at a coup d'etat, which was so widespread that Pond and company had to smuggle important documents from a northern port to a government department in London, while on the surface life was just as usual. In an unusual turn, Gahagan, after becoming entangled in Pond's talk of red pencils leaving black marks, goes to Wotton for the story. Pond, in charge of seeing that the documents arrived safely, said he shouldn't show any particular care in this case.
"The Unmentionable Man" Mr. Pond recollects a visit to one of those little monarchies that, when it became a republic, didn't magically solve all its problems. In fact, they acquired a lot of Marxist revolutionary types that the government tried to suppress, including some almost professional agitators. One of the government's most troubling problems was that they couldn't deport a desirable alien. 'You mean an *un*desirable alien.' Here we go again...
"Ring of Lovers" Gahagan tells of an incident at a stag party he attended the previous night, where the distinguished guests appeared to have nothing in common, involving the disappearance a valuable ring bearing a romantic inscription. The incident would be enough for a story, but here it is wielded beautifully to make Gahagan realize that he's taken a wrong turning in his life. (He doesn't lose his sense of humor, thank God.)
"The Terrible Troubadour" This, the third time Gahagan is mixed up in a mess, shows Chesterton's talent for dealing with continuing characters: talk is beginning to spread about Gahagan's suspicious previous history. :) The incident happened some years back, when Gahagan was on leave from the Great War - a holiday from hell, as he puts it - and flamboyantly competing with a rival to impress a vicar's daughter, climbing balconies and so on. The rival disappeared...
The biologist Paul Green, an expert on natural selection, is a recurring type in Chesterton's stories - G.K., speaking through Pond, disagreed with the science on religious principles.
"A Tall Story" This begins with an echo of the oncoming Holocaust; the story itself is set in a major seaport, like Brighton, during the WWI rather than WWII. Mr. Pond had an office there, and kept track of secret plans and possible spies. The paradoxes here are that a man too tall to be seen murdered one of Pond's colleagues, and that a tiresome woman, seeing spies under every bed, provides the key clue. The German governess in the story is contrasted with a certain type of Latin; the other half of the comparison can be found in the beautiful young Italian actress in "The Actor and the Alibi", in _The Secret of Father Brown_.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as the best Father Brown's 20 Oct. 1999
By CLAUDIO - Published on
It should be quoted more often among the greatest Chesterton's books. Mr. Pond is no less likable as a character than Father Brown (most other characters are charming as well). Each short story revolves around a paradox stated in earnest by Mr. Pond, such as "naturally, he was so tall that no one saw him" and things like that. (All is wonderfully explained later). Great crime stories (with no serious crimes involved) for those who consider "whodunits" too gory.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Enjoyable Mystery Collection by Chesterton 13 April 2002
By Michael Wischmeyer - Published on
G. K. Chesterton, a contemporary of Sir Conan Doyle, is known today for his delightful short stories, especially those involving Father Brown, a priest with a penchant for solving crimes.

Like myself, most readers of Father Brown stories are less aware of Chesterton's other collections of mystery tales. Following the advice of previous reviewers, I recently introduced myself to Mr. Pond and his friends, Captain Gahagan and Sir Hubert Wotton, in "The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond".

Once again Chesterton pleasantly surprised me. Mr. Pond, a quiet, mild mannered, obscure English bureaucrat relates an odd mix of adventures. All stories are initiated by some paradoxical comment that he unwittingly utters. After some confusion, Mr. Pond is persuaded to explain himself. The tales are usually a little convoluted, but in the end we have a solution that is logically possible, but not necessarily probable. (Many Sherlock Holmes cases share this characteristic.)

In "The Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse" Mr. Pond mentions that a Prussian Marshall Van Grock failed his mission "because the discipline was too good". His plan failed "because his soldiers obeyed him. Of course, if only one of his soldiers had obeyed him, it wouldn't have been so bad." Failure couldn't be avoided "when two of his soldiers obeyed him".

Mr. Pond's statements were equally incongruous in "When Doctors Agree". "Funny things agreements. Fortunately people generally go on disagreeing, till they die peacefully in their beds. Men very seldom do fully and finally agree. I did know two men who came to agree so completely that one of them naturally had to murder the other."

Chesterton's stories move at a more leisurely pace than many readers are now accustom, often involve improbable events and unusual characters, and occasionally digress to consider a moral issue.

If you are already an admirer of Chesterton, definitely acquire this inexpensive Dover edition. If you are new to Chesterton, consider also acquiring Chesterton's famed Father Brown detective stories.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond 20 April 2007
By not4prophet - Published on
An endearing if imperfect collection of mysteries from G. K. Chesterton. This was the last work of fiction he ever wrote. Certainly all of his trademarks are still here: clever plot twists, seemingly impossible paradoxes, philosophical discussion mixed in with the story, and endearing comedy mixed in with the philosophy. But with that said, this particular set of stories is a mixed bag.

At the top of the heap (and the top of the order) is "The Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse". This tale takes us to Poland, where a headstrong German general fails because he has two loyal Prussian servants. If he'd had only one, he would have succeeded. How can this be? Mr. Pond narrates out of the apparent contradiction in fine fashion, complete with unforgettable characters, creepy setting, and a titanic clash of wills.

On the other hand, other stories in the collection are definitely lacking some real Chestertonian zing. Some of them are frankly predictable, others seem arbitrarily constructed just to build up to a clever punch line. One hesitates to suggest that Chesterton's talents were failing at the end of his life. After all, he wrote some of his best books in the 1930's, including his towering autobiography. Nevertheless, he certainly let some substandard material slip through here.

Even so, "The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond" is well worth reading for anyone who appreciates a good mystery or just a little fun. Further, all the stories are still packed with the unflagging spirit that is G. K. Chesterton. Even when his literally skills slipped a notch, he remained committed to principles, and determined to fit important statements into all his works. In particular, both the first and last story in this collection contain echoes of the horrors of the Nazi regime. With the Holocaust beginning in earnest shortly after this book was written, it's worth considering how much a seemingly innocent collection of tales could tell us about the human condition. Perhaps we should pay a bit more attention to the messages in our popular writings today.
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