This age is not remote. Haycrafts purpose it starts after the first World War and lasts up to about 1930. For all practical purposes it is still here. Two-thirds or three-quarters of world all the detective stories published still adhere to the formula the giants of this era created, perfected, polished and sold to the world as problems in logic and deduction. These are stern words, but be not alarmed. They are only words. Let us glance at one of the glories of the literature, an acknowledged masterpiece of the art of fooling the reader without cheating him.
If you know that platinum wont melt under about restaurant 2800 degrees. By itself, but will melt at the glance of a pair of deep blue eyes when put close to a bar of lead, then you dont know how men make love in the twentieth century. And if you know enough about the elegant flânerie of the pre-war French riviera to lay your story in that locale, you dont know that a couple of capsules of barbital small enough to be swallowed will not only not kill a manthey will not. Every detective story writer makes mistakes, and none will ever know as much as he should. Conan doyle made mistakes which completely invalidated some of his stories, but he was a pioneer, and Sherlock holmes after all is mostly an attitude and a few dozen lines of unforgettable dialogue. It is the ladies and gentlemen of what. Howard haycraft (in his book. Murder for Pleasure ) calls the golden Age of detective fiction that really get me down.
I suppose the principal dilemma of the traditional or classic or straight-deductive or logicanddeduction novel of detection is that for any approach to perfection it demands a combination of qualities not found in the same mind. The cool-headed constructionist does not also come across with lively characters, sharp dialogue, a sense of pace and an acute use of observed detail. The grim logician has as much atmosphere as a drawing-board. The scientific sleuth has a nice new shiny laboratory, but Im sorry i cant remember the face. The fellow who can write you a vivid and colorful prose simply wont be bothered with the coolie labor of breaking down unbreakable alibis. The master of rare knowledge is living psychologically in the age of the hoop skirt. If you know all you should know about ceramics and Egyptian needlework, you dont know anything at all about the police.
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In that sense the raised eyebrow of the critic and the shoddy merchandizing of the publisher are perfectly logical. The average detective story is resume probably no worse than the average novel, but you never see the average novel. It doesnt get published. The averageor only slightly above averagedetective story does. Not only is it published but it is sold in small quantities to rental libraries, and it is read. There are even a few optimists who buy it at the full retail price of two dollars, because it looks so fresh and new, and there is a picture of a corpse on the cover.
And the strange thing is that this average, more than middling dull, pooped-out piece of utterly unreal and mechanical fiction is not terribly different see from what are called the masterpieces of the art. It drags on a little more slowly, the dialogue is a little grayer, the cardboard out of which the characters are cut is a shade thinner, and the cheating is a little more obvious; but it is the same kind of book. Whereas the good novel is not at all the same kind of book as the bad novel. It is about entirely different things. But the good detective story and the bad detective story are about exactly the same things, and they are about them in very much the same way. There are reasons for this too, and reasons for the reasons; there always are.
This is very annoying to people of what is called discernment. They do not like it that penetrating and important works of fiction of a few years back stand on their special shelf in the library marked "Best-Sellers of Yesteryear and nobody goes near them but an occasional shortsighted customer who bends down, peers briefly and. The Triple petunia murder Case, or, inspector Pinchbottle to the rescue. They do not like it that "really important books" get dusty on the reprint counter, while. Death wears Yellow Garters is put out in editions of fifty or one hundred thousand copies on the news-stands of the country, and is obviously not there just to say goodbye. To tell you the truth, i do not like it very much myself.
In my less stilted moments I too write detective stories, and all this immortality makes just a little too much competition. Even Einstein couldnt get very far if three hundred treatises of the higher physics were published every year, and several thousand others in some form or other were hanging around in excellent condition, and being read too. Hemingway says somewhere that the good writer competes only with the dead. The good detective story writer (there must after all be a few) competes not only with all the unburied dead but with all the hosts of the living as well. And on almost equal terms; for it is one of the qualities of this kind of writing that the thing that makes people read it never goes out of style. The heros tie may be a little off the mode and the good gray inspector may arrive in a dogcart instead of a streamlined sedan with siren screaming, but what he does when he gets there is the same old futzing around with timetables and. I have, however, a less sordid interest in the matter. It seems to me that production of detective stories on so large a scale, and by writers whose immediate reward is small and whose need of critical praise is almost nil, would not be possible at all if the job took any talent.
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Nor is it any part of my thesis to essay maintain that it is a vital and significant form of art. There are no vital and significant forms of art; there is only art, and precious little of that. The growth of populations has in no way increased the amount; it has merely increased the adeptness with which substitutes can be produced and packaged. Yet the detective story, even in its most conventional form, is difficult to write well. Good specimens of the art are much rarer than good serious novels. Rather second-rate items outlast most of the high velocity fiction, and a great many that should never have been born simply refuse to die at all. They are as durable as the statues in public parks and just about that dull.
But it has been going on too long for it to be news. If the mystery novel is at all realistic (which it very seldom is) it is written in a certain spirit of psg detachment; otherwise nobody but a psychopath would want to write it or read. The murder novel has also a depressing way of minding its own business, solving its own problems and answering its own questions. There is nothing left to discuss, except whether it was well enough written to be good fiction, and the people who make up the half-million sales wouldnt know that anyway. The detection of quality in writing is difficult enough even for those who make a career of the job, without paying too much attention to the matter of advance sales. The detective story (perhaps I had better call it that, since the English formula still dominates the trade) has to find its public by a slow process of distillation. That it does do this, and holds on thereafter with such tenacity, is a fact; the reasons for it are a study for more patient minds than mine.
largely with uninhibited characters, many of whom were about two jumps ahead of the police, but Jane austens chronicles of highly inhibited people against a background of rural gentility seem. There is plenty of that kind of social and emotional hypocrisy around today. Add to it a liberal dose of intellectual pretentiousness and you get the tone of the book page in your daily paper and the earnest and fatuous atmosphere breathed by discussion groups in little clubs. These are the people who make bestsellers, which are promotional jobs based on a sort of indirect snob-appeal, carefully escorted by the trained seals of the critical fraternity, and lovingly tended and watered by certain much too powerful pressure groups whose business is selling books. Just get a little behind in your payments and you will find out how idealistic they are. The detective story for a variety of reasons can seldom be promoted. It is usually about murder and hence lacks the element of uplift. Murder, which is a frustration of the individual and hence a frustration of the race, may have, and in fact has, a good deal of sociological implication.
Dvd 1 Disc.96 srp:.95. Watch Now On, special features, director-approved special edition, new, restored 2K digital film transfer, supervised by director of photography dick pope, with.0 surround dts-hd master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition. New audio commentary featuring director mike leigh. Audio recording of a 1991 interview with leigh at the national Film Theatre in London. Five short films written and directed by leigh for the proposed television series. Five-minute films, review with a new audio introduction by leigh. Plus: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic david Sterritt. New cover by Eric skillman. Fiction in any form has always intended to be realistic.
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You say it was review like this. I was torn between two worlds. 1, so now I try to find. We cry, and still they say. See i was just thinkin. So now I try to find. Blu-ray 1 Disc.96 srp:.95.