By Richard York

ISBN-10: 0230525016

ISBN-13: 9780230525016

ISBN-10: 0230590780

ISBN-13: 9780230590786

How comfortable are Agatha Christie's novels? they could appear to depict a sturdy global of appreciate for culture, shared tradition, settled gender and sophistication roles, political conservatism and unambiguous morality, within which cause suffices to regulate disease. yet this global is threatened via modernity and uncertainty: struggle, social mobility, extremist politics, ethical liberalization. well-liked voters will be criminals, detectives are usually not thoroughly in contrast to murderers, social lifestyles is essentially theatrical, and violence can result in concord.

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Additional info for Agatha Christie: Power and Illusion (Crime Files)

Example text

At first he maintains his innocence, looking disgusted (III, xv); he turns proudly to the young woman he loves; as she accepts Poirot’s explanation, he curses the detective and does so in a tone of fine theatrical grandeur. The performance shifts from a one-man show to a drama, and it is the murderer who finally stands centre stage. In Sir Charles’s career up to this point the acting has been very complex. He is always acting – a major figure in the theatre, but still an actor off the stage (3Act, I, i), and is first seen playing the part of the Retired Naval Man, in a style that doesn’t quite convince.

Amongst those who are interested in the investigation are the son of the house, Alexander, and his friend, James Stoddart-West, both of whom find it exciting to partake in a real detective story. The two boys then leave to stay with James’s mother, who (the negligent reader may not fully register) is French. Towards the end of the novel Lady StoddartWest appears at Rutherford Hall; and Lady Stoddart-West is Martine and has nothing to do with the murder. A neat trick on the part of the novelist; a rather strained coincidence; but also a demonstration of a kaleidoscopic world in which people change nationality and status, and in which the change may not be precisely perceived by those who come across them later.

Roger Ackroyd, to mention briefly a well-known example, brings home to the reader how far the reading of literature normally resembles the largely trusting relationship of real conversation. The narrator of this work is not simply self-deluding as are the unreliable narrators of many novels, major and minor, from Wuthering Heights to Bridget Jones; he is deliberately concealing the most important fact in his story, namely that he is himself the murderer. If you can’t trust a narrator who can you trust?

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Agatha Christie: Power and Illusion (Crime Files) by Richard York


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