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Author Topic: Agatha Christie: underrated master ?
Geneva
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posted 07 October 2003 10:18 AM      Profile for Geneva     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=244
From: um, well | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Doug
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posted 07 October 2003 11:56 AM      Profile for Doug   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"In Buchenwald concentration camp, Jewish inmates acted out an amateur production of ‘Ten Little Niggers’, and several later claimed that this helped them retain their will to live."

I bet they don't produce that one much anymore.

It's interesting just how much continually popular literature there is that comes from or derives from the aesthetics of Toryism, and yet that ideology is no longer a going political concern.


From: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Geneva
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posted 07 October 2003 12:23 PM      Profile for Geneva     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
it was renamed Ten Little Indians for staging in the US in, what, 1938 ....
From: um, well | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 07 October 2003 12:43 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yeah ...

Although I enjoy flipping through the odd Christie book too, and have really enjoyed some of the TV series (especially Poirot) and movies made from them, I have to repeat the boring old lit crit line: Christie just isn't a very good writer. She's actually kind of a boring writer if you're reading every line -- she's only fun if you're turning pages fast, waiting for the next thing to happen.

In other words, all the cliches are true. She did fun plots. That made her great raw material for the (often much better) writers and actors who brought her stories to stage, screen, radio, and TV -- but those who know her only from those classics will get a surprise from the books. The prose is pallid and clunky. The characters need great actors to inhabit them.

The broad outline of her "Burkean" conservatism drawn in the link here is hardly news. That puzzle-plot mysteries are usually deeply conservative is a cliche of commentary on the genre; and Little Englander conservatism is likewise just still so common an attitude among the English that we hardly need to stretch to find heavy intellectual precedents for it.

Honestly, I don't think that Christie the writer can bear the weight of this kind of analysis, although maybe Waugh could. Even so, talking about a writer's underlying political commitments still doesn't tell us much about her literary achievements, which makes this writer's cheap shot at Edmund Wilson look even more crass. So Christie sold more books? So has Jackie Collins. Stupid argument.

Dorothy Sayers, btw, is also an amazingly thudding writer line by line, although she did more with her characters, IMO. If you want to read a genuinely literary mistress of the genre, turn to Margery Allingham's Campion series. That woman could write.


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kingblake
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posted 07 October 2003 03:04 PM      Profile for kingblake     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
thanks for the interesting article.
as offensive as i Christie's politics are, ("Primitive women toil incessantly. We seem determined to return to that state voluntarily.")
i have to admit that she singlehandedly turned me onto reading. although i haven't read her since (its been around 18 years), i read "and then there were none" as a child and it turned me into a reader when i hadn't been one before.

From: In Regina, the land of Exotica | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged

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