The article deals with the investigation of the detective works of the authors of XX century. The stories, offered by the authors of the detectives, are perceived not with the feeling of fear and worry, but with the huge curiosity for the creativity of the criminal and detective. It is lend to feel the pleasure of the fantasy game of the artist, who is skillful to make us relive ecstatic thrill of relaxing and satisfaction of being punished and victory of the justice. Detective is humane genre, almost caring not less than the other genres about the inner peace of people — particularly, high concentration of defects and virtue is allocated so carefully that it becomes difficult to perceive it as the comment for the real life. This feature is widely considered in the article.
Key words: detective story, genre, perception, real life, investigation, psychology of the criminal, analyze, tradition
Статья посвящена исследованию детективных работ авторов XX века. Рассказы, предлагаемые авторами детективов, воспринимаются не с чувством тревоги и дискомфорта, а с огромным любопытством к изобретательности преступника и детектива. Мы склонны испытывать удовольствие от игры фантазии художника, сумевшего заставить пережить экстатическое возбуждение и позаботившегося о релаксации и удовлетворении от наказания порока и торжества справедливости. Детектив — это гуманный жанр, заботящиеся не менее других жанров о душевном спокойствии людей — в частности, высокая концентрация пороков и добродетелей распределяется настолько тщательно, что становится трудно воспринимать ее как комментарий к реальной жизни. Эта особенность широко рассматривается в статье.
Ключевые слова: детективная история, жанр, восприятие, реальная жизнь, расследование, психология преступника, анализ, традиция
National tradition of studying foreign detective is in its initial stage. This is clear, since the relatively wide acquaintance with this genre, which does not recognize national borders, for our reader, began only in the sixties. Literary studies can offer a very meager list of research works. Novels which enshrine a mystery, often involving a crime, and which provide the satisfaction of an ultimate solution are, of course, common in the canon of English literature, and most would never be thought of in terms of detective fiction. The monographs were lucky only J. Simenon (books E.and Schreiber, N. Modestova withstood two editions); selectively affects foreign detective work of A. Adam's «My favorite genre — detective». Single serious articles of Dvorson B. A. Vulisa in periodicals. It should highlight the contribution of G. Andzhaparidze, S. Belova, a number of other authors of the Preface to the collections of the review character of national detectives, published in the publishing houses «Young guard», «Progress», «Rainbow», «Moscow worker». Foreign bibliography of the detective lacks as well. Biographical books of Arthur Conan Doyle by D. D. Carr and H.Pearson were translated into Russian from foreign literary studies. Meanwhile, in the world, there is an extensive literature on the detective story — the history of the formation and development of the genre, its major masters; regularly published bibliographic reference books of varying range of content, anthology. Recognized authorities in this area are American, English and French researchers [1, c.6].
Historically, it was in these countries almost simultaneously — in the middle of the 19th century — was born and claimed the right to exist a special type of narrative literature, first called detective story by E. K. Green in the late 1870s., came in the national literature under different terms, rooted in the Russian as the detective. As the founding father of the genre recognized Edgar Allan Poe. From the literature of mysteries and crimes, existing since ancient times, Edgar Poe singled out and approved as an independent one storyline, by the presence or absence of which in the work of art is determined its belonging to the detective: the image of the process of crime disclosure. The first experience can be called partly laboratory: the writer ruthlessly cut off everything that did not work directly on the solution of the main problem, thereby showing the essence of the detective in its purest form. As Ellery Queen wrote, «and Poe said: be a detective. And there was a detective. Moreover, when he created the detective in his own image and saw what he had created, he said: that is very good. Since he created the classical form of the detective. This form was and will remain true in this infinite world forever and ever.” [3, p. 66]
Contemporaries, however, did not immediately see the prospects opened by Edgar Poe's novels, assessing them more as a cunning, difficult to perform a logical task — but no more. Towards the end of the century, one critic explicitly stated the fragility of the novelty: «taking into account how difficult it is to nurture fresh ideas... you can be sure that this sensation will soon die down».
The forecast was hasty and unreasonable, because long before it — in the sixties, seventies in English and French literature there was a successful booster of «North American wild man» on the fertile soil of the rich literary traditions of European adventurous, picaresque, social, satirical novel, which gave the variety of shoots, which is now a real jungle of detective literature of different kinds and genres. Among the prevailing views on the nature of the detective is often found the concept that the genealogy of the genre is built on the proto-elements found in biblical myths and monuments of literature of different people of the same ancient eras. In a similar vein, «elements of the detective» stand out in the literature of modern times — Dickens, Balzac, Dostoevsky, etc. I think this concept, interesting as a special case of literary analysis, contributes little to the understanding of the specifics of the detective, and sometimes — willingly or unwittingly — gives a kind of ingratiating intonation of a poor relative, imposing his society rich uncle. [1, c.83]
To give to Caesar what is Caesar’s means, first of all, to recognize the detective's right to independent existence and respect, although he has long been in such a «recognition» does not need, winning the hearts of millions of readers.
Generic features of the genre, its concept — the only thing that remains unchanged for decades. Detective contains crime, investigation and solution. Everything else, as it is said, tasted — an intellectual game or chase with shootings, imitation of an accident or outright violence in broad daylight, an amateur detective, a private investigator or a whole police brigade in the role of an investigator; the author's desire to create a recognizable picture of the time, milieu and place of action or intentionally deprived event; detailed acquaintance with the main characters or deliberate schematics, emphasizing the functional role of the guards, and much more gives the diversity of the detective, which is often mistakenly perceived as a rebirth of the genre.
The first signs of this diversity appeared in the «Golden age» of the detective, which fell on the period between the two World Wars. Very striking differences in the subject and manner of performance contained, for example, novels by Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett and Georges Simenon. In addition, a myriad of writers «second», «third» series and not amenable to gradation of creators of waste paper products easily and successfully mastered the space of the milieu — criminal environment, previously owned by the criminal newspaper chronicle. [2, p.59–60]
Detective is humane genre, almost caring not less than the other genres about the inner peace of people — particularly, high concentration of defects and virtue is allocated so carefully that it becomes difficult to perceive it as the comment for the real life. This feature is widely considered by the famous author, Agatha Christie (1890–1976) — one of the greatest masters of the detective of the twentieth century. Under this name known Englishwoman Mary Clarissa Miller, in her first marriage — the wife of Colonel Archibald Christie. She owns about seventy novels, many stories, plays, sold nearly half a billion copies worldwide. Since 1958, she has been the permanent President of the English Detective club. Queen Elizabeth II granted her the title of nobility for her literary achievements. Two of the characters created by Christy — Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple — are part of the classic series of outstanding investigators of world literature.
It is known from Christie's autobiography that she was the youngest daughter in a family of Miller immigrants from the United States; received an unsystematic home education, studied music a little in France, in the middle of the tenth years acquired the specialty of a nurse and during the First World War worked in the hospital. In childhood differed conspicuous gambling away imagination combined with a strong shyness. «The people I imagined, — Christy wrote, — were more real to me than those around me». It is believed that the reason for Christie's appeal to the detective was a dispute with her older sister Madge (who has already proved herself as a writer), and that she was able to create something worthy of publication. The result was the novel «The Mysterious Affair at Styles». Only in the seventh publishing —John Lane «The Bodley Head» the novel was released with a circulation of 2000 copies. The novice author received 25 pound sterling as the fee and sympathetic response in... medical journal, noticed the work of the colleague, professionally portrayed the atmosphere of the hospital.
Thus, in the arena of detective literature in 1920, appeared Agatha Christie and a small mustachioed Belgian Hercule Poirot, who left the service of the Belgian police in the sixty-fourth year of life and moved to England.
However, Poirot did not immediately take a dominant position in the world of Christie. In the second novel, which came out from under her pen, as the Central figures were a couple of Amateur detectives Tuppence and Tommy Beresford, a year later — Colonel Reis, followed by — inspector of police Battle, and ten years after Poirot’s «going on stage» there was a debut of old Jane Marple. All of these characters are the heroes of more or less volume of the series, but in a number of novels and short stories Christie that involves the random role of detectives’ or combines the victim and the detective in one person. [4. P 22–23]
In Russian translations, the most widely represented series with Hercule Poirot in the title role. Poirot had changed very little in half a century of his literary existence. At first acquaintance, he appears to be the current master of the investigation of high qualification. Of course, in England he has to be reminded of this, (Belgian fame is not the most sonorous, what to do...), but Poirot is not embarrassed, but rather annoyed at the insufficiently informed British. A significant help in «advertising» will give him friends — captain Hastings (the figure is much less expressive than its «analog» Dr. Watson in Doyle’s work, Christie, in the third novel of the series sent him to Argentina; however, six years later («the Mystery of Endhouse») he'll be next with Poirot again), the inspector of Scotland Yard Gap (he is — the very representative of authorities in several cases investigated by Poirot), «the famous master of detective novels» Ariadne Oliver (slightly parodic way-a sketch of the Christy herself) etc.
If have a look at Poirot from the outside — «an egg-shaped skull, partially covered with suspicious dark hair, a giant mustache, a pair of attentive eyes»; but the great detective does not suffer from complexes such as: «I'm not funny». The main tools of investigation «method, order and the little grey cells» (as he calls the brain), as well as the study of the psychology of the criminal. With all this, Poirot is very standard as a person. It is the standard, or norm, that gives him the opportunity to accurately determine deviations from it, which incident to the behavior of the offender. Another thing is that the «norm» of Poirot — not the same as the «stencils», which are usually the police or independent investigators «at Poirot» (we are not talking about the main characters of other novels). «I’m not going to ask the questions that the police asked», he warns in the novel «Death in the clouds». Distinctive in this sense, and the novel «Cards on the table», which presents two groups of people invited to visit the eccentric Mr.Shaitan. The first consists of the investigators: Poirot, Ariadne Oliver, inspector Battle, Colonel Reis, the other is also of four people, one of whom committed an incredible risk of being caught at the crime scene of murdering the owner of the house. Investigators — each in their own way — lead their own lines; Poirot, faithful to the method of finding anomalies in the behavior of the offender, studying how... the party proceeded in bridge, the participants of which were suspects. It is significant that in cases where in the behavior of the offender dominated — at least at one stage — the element of chance, improvisation, Poirot was in a difficult situation. However, the way out of the maze is the same. In an extreme situation, Poirot even goes to the typological imitation of the death of one of the characters («The Riddle of Endhouse», «Drama in Three Acts») — and the reaction of others restores the missing link. From a psychological point of view, this technique is, of course, curious, but the reader is forced to feel a slight disappointment from the lack of the «main key».
However, Christie does not often use the method of exposing the criminal. Taking into account the interests of fans to compete with the detective, she is ready to lay out all the «keys», thoroughly listing the facts, objects, witness testimony, which Poirot extracted, and gives the hero triumphantly declare: «I do not hide anything from you. What I know, you know. You can draw your own conclusions. This is the art of the detective» («The Mysterious Affair at Styles»); similarly, all the «keys» stated in the novels «Death in the clouds», «Sixteen years later», etc. There is also a «Sherlock Holmes» version, in which Poirot prefers to keep his guesses to himself until the spectacular culmination («I'll take you the way I went myself» — «The Murder of Roger Ackroyd»). The last of these novels is notable for the fact that in them Christy decided to violate one of the most important, strictly observed in those years, the laws of building a detective, for which she was subjected to obstruction by fellow artisans. Another violation of the «laws of the genre» (the offender must be alone) in the famous «Murder on the Orient Express» — quietly «got away with» the author, ie. the very development of the detective in the thirties showed the limitations of the «laws» invented by Van Dyne, etc., fettering the imagination and capabilities of the writer. Of course, the reader was not exactly no matter to such subtleties, because Agatha Christie satisfied the most fastidious fans to solve detective stories-puzzles. Not to say that she had been able never to repeat, but noticeable such repetitions with a fairly large distance. With Agatha Christie on the map detective appeared, increasingly expanding, «good old England» — mainly provincial, preserving the traditions of the Victorian era with its unhurried way of life, the absence of any noticeable changes, a standard set of characters (poor owners of estates and castles, retired military, local intelligentsia — doctors, lawyers, young people, concerned about profitable matrimonial parties) with no less standard criminal interests (struggle for inheritance, jealousy, thirst for enrichment). This, of course, is not the only area of interest of the writer, but perhaps the most characteristic. [6. p.23–24]
In the creative baggage of Poirot — the investigation of murders in ancient estates and resort hotels, in secular living rooms and student dormitories, train, plane, on the boat, in England, France, Egypt... Respectively, changing the «conditions of the game», the nature of the evidence. Nevertheless, on a bet Poirot can get to the truth and without leaving his office, at least prefers not to fuss, not missing the opportunity to make fun of the police: «In your opinion, a good detective... should be full of life. He should be running back and forth. He should be lying on his stomach in the dust of the road and look through a tiny magnifying glass tire tracks. He's got to pick up cigarette butts and matches, right?.. But I, Hercule Poirot, declare to you that this is not true! The only thing that has a price is the little gray cells in there. Quietly and imperceptibly they do their job». [5. p.112–115]
Thus, he argues that the ability to think logically, to analyze available facts — the alpha and omega of a detective; brilliant proof — in the novel «Sixteen years later», where Poirot recovers justice, studying testimony from five witnesses to the incident, many years ago events. «People restore old murders as well as restore old melodies, old plays... These written reports were extremely valuable material as from the point of view of judicial authorities was not related to business. These were remarks, personal opinions; also in these reports, facts are also found deliberately hidden from the court and the investigation. Thus, I was able to see the real picture of the murder of Emis Krel».
In the biography of Poirot, there is even an investigation of «a crime that has not yet been committed» (the story «Hornet's nest»).
The refined logic of the investigation Christie, we can say, redeems two «inexpressive» component of their novels. First of all, she's not interested in the image of the murder. «The detective was a moral story, — she recalled in her autobiography. — Like all who wrote and read these books, I was against the criminal and for the innocent victim... Anybody in a head could not come that the time will come when the detectives will be read because they describe scenes of violence, for the sake of sadistic pleasure from cruelty for cruelty…»
Note in brackets, that Russian-speaking reader largely spared from this «pleasure»…
- C.Бавин. Популярная библиографическая энциклопедия. Москва. 1991 г.
- Barnard, Robert. A talent to deceive: An appreciation of Agatha Christie. Collins, London. 1999.
- Booth, Martin. The doctor, the detective and Arthur Conan Doyle. Hodder&Stoughton, London, 1997.
- Craig, Patricia and Mary Cadogan. The lady investigates: Women detectives and Spies in fiction. Victor Gollanez, London, 1981.
- Thompson, Laura. Agatha Christie: An English Mystery. Headline Review, London. 2007.
- Summerscale, Kate. The Suspicious of Mr.Wicher or The Murder at Road Hill House. Bloomsbury, London, 2008.