Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Ian Rankin Ranks 'em: Ten of the Greatest Literary Crime Novels

Expand Messages
  • Vegetableduck
    Ian Rankin has been banging the Booker Prize drum for the crime novel quite loudly lately, so I was interested to come across this March 27, 2010 list at
    Message 1 of 5 , Jun 1, 2010
    • 0 Attachment
      Ian Rankin has been banging the Booker Prize drum for the crime novel quite loudly lately, so I was interested to come across this March 27, 2010 list at

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1260343/IAN-RANKIN-Ten-greatest-literary-crime-novels.html

      Here they are:

      1. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824) James Hogan

      2. Bleak House (1853), Charles Dickens

      3. Crime and Punishment (1866), Fyodor Dostoyevsky

      4. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), Robert Louis Stevenson

      5. Brighton Rock (1938), Graham Greene

      6. The Big Sleep (1939), Raymond Chandler

      7. Roseanna (1965), Maj Showall and Per Wahloo

      8. The Driver's Seat (1970), Muriel Spark

      9. The Name of the Rose (1980), Umberto Eco

      10. Live Flesh (1986), Ruth Rendell (Rankin comments, "I could have chosen any one of Rendell's many novels, but this was the first I read")

      Rankin excluded himself here, though I'm sure many would hasten to correct that omission. The inclusion of Chandler and particularity Rendell seems a bid to elevate the genre crime novel to Great Literature status, but is "any one of Rendell's many novels" really on the same plane with Bleak House and Crime and Punishment? Are those two novels even "crime novels" (oddly, all of Wilkie Collins' sensation novels were omitted from the list)? Personally, I don't even think The Big Sleep is even a good genre novel, let alone Great Literature (and I like Chandler); but will it and Live Flesh (indeed, all of Ruth Rendell's sixty novels) one day be taught as literary masterpieces of like rank with Bleak House and Crime and Punishment?

      Julian Symons once tried to make the case for Crime and Punishment as crime novel, but later relented.

      Curt
    • Xavier Lechard
      Muriel Spark s presence is the only surprising thing about an otherwise uninspired, derivative list. Regarding Collins and his non-showing, it is neither odd
      Message 2 of 5 , Jun 1, 2010
      • 0 Attachment
        Muriel Spark's presence is the only surprising thing about an otherwise
        uninspired, derivative list.

        Regarding Collins and his non-showing, it is neither "odd" or accidental.
        It's all about genre politics. The choice of your "Great Ancestors" is a
        highly predictive marker of your "affiliation" - Collins is more likely to
        be claimed as an influence by traditional mystery or psychological suspense
        writers than by the social-realistic fringe to which Rankin belongs. Also,
        Collins for all his continued populary and endorsement by many great writers
        and scholars is arguably less "respectable" than Dickens or Dostoevsky, and
        respectability is what Rankin and the transcend-the-genre crowd craves most
        for.

        Friendly,
        Xavier


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Vegetableduck
        If were to be cynical, I suppose, one might suggest that Ruth Rendell is being used by Ian Rankin rather as a stalking horse. On Collin, I get what you are
        Message 3 of 5 , Jun 1, 2010
        • 0 Attachment
          If were to be cynical, I suppose, one might suggest that Ruth Rendell is being used by Ian Rankin rather as a stalking horse.

          On Collin, I get what you are saying, but objectively of course it seems "odd" to omit Collins' The Moonstone (detective novel) and The Woman in White (thriller) in favor of Dickens' Bleak House, when the Collins tales are much more clearly "crime" novels. They center around crime in a way Bleak House doesn't, really. But as a rhetorical strategy it makes sense, as you say, since Dickens is a bigger fish than Collins.

          I have tio admit, it looked odd though, to me anyway: Bleak House...Crime and Punishment...The Big Sleep...Live Flesh. Rankin would cry snobbery! but, amusingly, I'm one trying to defend, in the face of literary :snobs," assigning the puzzle detective novel a respectable place in within the genre. And I think Chandler and Rendell often are very good writers. I just don't see why it's necessary to equate their work with the world's greatest literary masterpieces. In Rendell's case, anyway, it's pretty absurd to argue that "any" of her books could go on the list. Rendell's sixtieth novel comes out this year, and it's not surprising that a massive opus like that includes some clunkers, particularly in the last fifteen years, when I think her writing started to decline on the whole. Anyone tells me The Rottweiler, say, is equivalent to Bleak House, I say fie!

          Probably the best crime novel but Rendell I have read is the Vine book A Dark Adapted Eye. An unoriginal choice, but there it is.

          Another "odd" thing about his list. No Simenon and Highsmith! I guess Rankin was so busy listing books that are considered more as "straight" novels, he didn't have time for those that most consider to be "genre" novels.

          Curt


          --- In GAdetection@yahoogroups.com, Xavier Lechard <lechardxavier@...> wrote:
          >
          > Muriel Spark's presence is the only surprising thing about an otherwise
          > uninspired, derivative list.
          >
          > Regarding Collins and his non-showing, it is neither "odd" or accidental.
          > It's all about genre politics. The choice of your "Great Ancestors" is a
          > highly predictive marker of your "affiliation" - Collins is more likely to
          > be claimed as an influence by traditional mystery or psychological suspense
          > writers than by the social-realistic fringe to which Rankin belongs. Also,
          > Collins for all his continued populary and endorsement by many great writers
          > and scholars is arguably less "respectable" than Dickens or Dostoevsky, and
          > respectability is what Rankin and the transcend-the-genre crowd craves most
          > for.
          >
          > Friendly,
          > Xavier
          >
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
        • Xavier Lechard
          ... odd to omit Collins The Moonstone (detective novel)and The Woman in White (thriller) in favor of Dickens Bleak House, when the Collins tales are much
          Message 4 of 5 , Jun 1, 2010
          • 0 Attachment
            Curt wrote:

            >On Collin, I get what you are saying, but objectively of course it seems
            "odd" to omit Collins' The Moonstone (detective novel)and >The Woman in
            White (thriller) in favor of Dickens' Bleak House, when the Collins tales
            are much more clearly "crime" novels.They >center around crime in a way
            Bleak House doesn't, really. But as a rhetorical strategy it makes sense, as
            you say, since >Dickens is a bigger fish than Collins.

            Rankin's comments on Bleak House confirm my suspicion that he is actually
            trying to push his own brand of crime fiction:

            "Spinning a web to trap all of them is the extraordinary figure of Inspector
            Bucket - who owes something to Vidocq, a real-life French detective of the
            period. Vidocq was a master of disguise and intuition, a man who seemed to
            appear from nowhere and know everyone's innermost secrets and desires. He
            is, then, the template for many fictional detectives to come. "

            In Rankinland, C. Auguste Dupin never existed or is a negligible character.
            This reminds me of the way some French scholars seeked to minimize or
            flatout deny Poe's role in the "invention" of the genre, crediting instead
            Vidocq, Balzac or Gaboriau. Their purpose of course was to "prove" that
            crime fiction is realistic by essence - traditional detective stories being
            a later aberration rather than the original form of the genre.

            Friendly,
            Xavier


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • alanjbishop1
            This months update of the www.criminal-history.co.uk include reviews of works by Barbara Cleverly, Jane Finnis, Paul Doherty, Edward Marston, Gyles Brandreth
            Message 5 of 5 , Jun 3, 2010
            • 0 Attachment
              This months update of the www.criminal-history.co.uk include reviews of works by Barbara Cleverly, Jane Finnis, Paul Doherty, Edward Marston, Gyles Brandreth and Rex Stout. Mention must be made of the free to enter competition to win some goodies including an unusual Murder Mystery card game! Enjoy!
            Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.