Perhaps prophetical more so than prosaic (and not at all in the sense Chesterton intended it) the Flying Inn is one of those books which should rank among the classics. Certain works on similar subject matter become quickly dated, while this work through its immortal prose, and brilliant poetry shall remain a classic because it could be something happening today.
The Flying Inn is a story of Patrick Dalroy, an Irish Navy captain who fought the Turks on behalf of various
The tale brings us through the adventures of Dalroy and Pump who mysteriously appear with their Inn sign and are out again before the authorities can do anything about it (if they will at all). The perplexed Ivywood, who has employed a Turkish man who once preached on the street corners with other local buffoons on their soapbox as his prophet of the new prohibitionist religion, continues his course not only to remake
Chesterton is perhaps one of few authors who can combine a flowing prose with verse and song on the scale to which he employs it, coining such memorable verses as the perfect vegetarian and the song of Quoodle. More importantly, while the book is about
[Mr. Crooke] “Do you think you made the world, that you should make it over again so easily?”
“The world was made badly”, said Ivywood, with a terrible note in his voice, “and I will make it over again.”
This last statement of his sums up so powerfully the motivation for all his movements throughout the book, for his fascination with Islam is not about Islam itself, it is about creating a new man. His forcing prohibition and embracing Eastern philosophies has little to do with the Eastern philosophies and religion itself, but everything to do with rejecting the spiritual and cultural patrimony of the Christian tradition in
Chesteron through Dalroy, makes a commentary on it:
“Do you know, Hump, I think modern people have somehow got their minds all wrong about human life. They seem to expect what Nature has never promised; and then try to ruin all that nature has really given. At all those atheist chapels of Ivywood’s they’re always talking of Peace, Perfect Peace, and Utter Peace, and Universal Joy and souls that beat as one. But they don’t look any more cheerful than anyone else; and the next thing they do is to start smashing a thousand good jokes and good stores and good songs and good friendships by pulling down ‘The Old Ship’. Now it seems to me that this is asking for too much and getting too little. I don’t know whether God means a man to have happiness in that All in All and Utterly Utter sense of happiness.” (Pg. 65-66)
The book as a whole leads us through many avenues, with strong distributist overtones, and many humorous anecdotes which make the book very readable. Most importantly, it serves as a warning, and proves Chesterton prophetic. I doubt he would have imagined a real Islamic takeover of
“The destiny of empire is in four acts: Victory over barbarians. Employment of barbarians.