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book jorge luis borges mystery chesterton

During the lockdown, I finally found the time to read the first volume of G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories. In general, I can’t say I like them as detective stories, because what I am looking for in this genre is brilliant deduction, and Father Brown doesn’t do that kind of thing. However, I was very impressed by a story titled The Sign of the Broken Sword. It’s a very unusual detective story, in which Father Brown analyzed the accepted narrative of a (fictional) historical event, and concluded that the overlooked inconsistencies could only mean one thing: the narrative was manufactured to cover up a deeper, tragic truth.

Since I started to read Jorge Luis Borges' Ficciones, I realized how much Borges was influenced by Chesterton. In fact, his short story Theme of the Traitor and Hero seems to be modeled on the Father Brown story. In the first paragraph, Borges even acknowledged that this story was inspired by Chesterton and Leibniz. Again, the main character uncovered the hidden truth behind a historical account, except that Borges took the idea to a weirder place. In his story, a historical event involving thousands of people was staged like a large-scale play, to advance the agenda of certain forces.