September 26, 2009

WHICH IS WHY LIBERAL DETECTIVES MAKE NO SENSE:

PD James, Queen of Detective Fiction: Interview: PD James talks to Jake Kerridge about detective fiction, her new book, and the technical problems of murder (Jake Kerridge, 9/26/09, Daily Telegraph)

The 89-year-old Lady James is trying to recall what first drew the teenage Phyllis, along with millions of other readers in the Thirties, to the so-called Golden Age detective stories.

“Those books suggested we live in a moral, comprehensible universe, at a time when there was a great deal of disruption and violence at home and abroad, and of course the ever-present risk of war. And we live in times of unrest now, so perhaps we may soon enter another Golden Age.”

It is one thing to read detective fiction voraciously, another to write it for five decades in the spare moments of a busy life spent working first for the NHS and then the police and criminal law departments of the Home Office, while bringing up two daughters and coping with the stresses of being married to somebody who was mentally ill: her late husband, Connor Bantry White, developed a form of schizophrenia after he returned from war service.

She says that writing was a compulsion – and it had to be detective fiction. “I don’t think writers choose the genre, the genre chooses us. I wrote out of the wish to create order out of disorder, the liking of a pattern.” [...]

In her book, James makes somewhat austere fun of her beloved Dorothy L Sayers over the scene at the end of Busman’s Honeymoon in which Lord Peter Wimsey breaks down in tears when the murderer he has brought to justice is hanged.

I say that I can’t imagine James’s own creation, the poet-policeman Adam Dalgliesh, being similarly affected. “No, he wouldn’t weep as the murderer was taken off to be hanged, or now of course it would be off to 10 years in jail."


Ouch!



Posted by Orrin Judd at September 26, 2009 7:10 AM
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