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Re: Guardian Unlimited: The real Agatha Christie mystery

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  • alanjbishop1
    Perhaps the endurance of Christie isn t in the simplicity of language but the simplicity of the world at the time. In Christies books, the social boundaries
    Message 1 of 4 , Jan 1, 2006
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      Perhaps the endurance of Christie isn't in the simplicity of language
      but the simplicity of the world at the time.
      In Christies books, the social boundaries are in place and taken for
      granted, there's no real hardship and the murders while brutal are
      clinically clean (even in "Hercule Poirot's Christmas"). Of course,
      this is due to the editorial and social standards of the time.
      Even during the time of capital punishment, Christie glossed over the
      result of the investigation - it was the search for the murderer that
      was important; once imprisoned and due an interview with the hangman,
      the criminal is tidied away. On the few occasions that it's a woman
      who's guilty of murder, they are either "allowed" to commit suicide or
      not mentioned again. Christies version of life was simple - no real
      moral responsibility, which modern novels seem to detail in abundance.
      Thus, Christie appeals not to the simple-minded but to those who
      enjoyed an apparently simpler period of history. We know it wasn't as
      clean and tidy in real life (look at the campaign surrounding Ruth
      Ellis), we enjoy the stories for what they were meant to be ... escapism.

      Oh, and by the way...

      The latest edition of Criminal History (www.criminal-history.co.uk)
      has been uploaded including a review of "The Case of The Late Pig" by
      Margery Allingham ... and a competiton to win a VHS video of "The
      Murder of Roger Ackroyd" by Christie!
    • stkarnick@sbcglobal.net
      There is another way of looking at this, however. Christie strips away everything BUT the characters moral choices. That is what makes her works truly
      Message 2 of 4 , Jan 2, 2006
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        There is another way of looking at this, however. Christie strips away everything BUT the characters' moral choices. That is what makes her works truly engrossing and dramatic (cf. Aristotle's definition of the essence of drama, which is the making of moral choices) and accounts for her enduring popularity. The social outcome is not what is important (meaning that references to the ultimate fate of the murderer-such as execution-would be an esthetically invalid distraction except insofar as they reflect further moral choices by the killer, detective, and police inspector; that is why it matters whether Poirot and the police allow the killer to commit suicide, and whether the killer does so); what is important is the choices the individual characters make. Those whose only interest is in how society functions should look elsewhere for their entertainment. The rest of us need to know whodunnit because that information is essential to the understanding of who reacted how to what circumstances, which is central to the making of moral judments. Nothing could be more important than this, to any person who aspires to be good. Best w's, Sam Karnick

        S. T. Karnick
        Senior Editor, Heartland Institute
        Associate Fellow, Sagamore Institute for Policy Research


        ----- Original Message -----
        Date: Sun, 01 Jan 2006 11:50:29 -0000
        From: "alanjbishop1" <alanjbishop1@...>
        Subject: Re: Guardian Unlimited: The real Agatha Christie mystery

        Perhaps the endurance of Christie isn't in the simplicity of language
        but the simplicity of the world at the time.
        In Christies books, the social boundaries are in place and taken for
        granted, there's no real hardship and the murders while brutal are
        clinically clean (even in "Hercule Poirot's Christmas"). Of course,
        this is due to the editorial and social standards of the time.
        Even during the time of capital punishment, Christie glossed over the
        result of the investigation - it was the search for the murderer that
        was important; once imprisoned and due an interview with the hangman,
        the criminal is tidied away. On the few occasions that it's a woman
        who's guilty of murder, they are either "allowed" to commit suicide or
        not mentioned again. Christies version of life was simple - no real
        moral responsibility, which modern novels seem to detail in abundance.
        Thus, Christie appeals not to the simple-minded but to those who
        enjoyed an apparently simpler period of history. We know it wasn't as
        clean and tidy in real life (look at the campaign surrounding Ruth
        Ellis), we enjoy the stories for what they were meant to be ... escapism.

        Oh, and by the way...

        The latest edition of Criminal History (www.criminal-history.co.uk)
        has been uploaded including a review of "The Case of The Late Pig" by
        Margery Allingham ... and a competiton to win a VHS video of "The
        Murder of Roger Ackroyd" by Christie!


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • nick
        Ooops. Sorry Xavier because I have been away for months and am still vainly trying to catch up I had missed this... you quoted from the Guardian... ...
        Message 3 of 4 , Apr 6, 2006
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          Ooops. Sorry Xavier because I have been away for months
          and am still vainly trying to catch up I had missed this...

          you quoted from the Guardian...

          >> 'Nothing explains the enduring popularity of Agatha Christie, except her
          >> appeal to foreign students [studying English]," wrote novelist Nicholas
          >> Blincoe at the weekend. Unfortunate timing by Blincoe because, just as he
          >> was lampooning the late "Queen of Crime", a joint study by three British
          >> universities reported that it was the very simplicity of her style that
          >> appealed - not just to Japanese students but everyone else, too.
          >> "Christie's language patterns stimulate higher than usual activity in the
          >> brain," said Dr Roland Kapferer, who coordinated the research, undertaken
          >> by neuro-linguists at the universities of Birmingham, London and Warwick.
          >> "The release of these neurological opiates makes Christie's writing
          >> literally unputdownable." Narrative speed, the "mesmerising" use of
          >> familiar phrases, and "minimum cognitive distraction" (aka lack of
          >> Flaubertian detail) were all cited as reasons for her extraordinary
          >> success<<

          Blincoe's comment is frankly stupid but would I suppose provide
          an example of the underrating of Christie by other mystery novelists
          (I have only the vaguest idea who he is in any case).
          But the research cited was amongst that used in
          the television programme I talked about - this was
          a serious study which while not coming up with any
          conclusive answers at least pointed out some interesting
          directions.

          I apologise for being unaware that you had already drawn attention
          to the print version of it.

          NickH.
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