Thursday, January 18, 2007

Happy birthday, A. A. Milne.

A. A. Milne, the creator of Winnie the Pooh, was born on January 18, 1882. He died in 1956.

A mystery fan, Milne is known for the country house novel The Red House Mystery (1922), which Alexander Woolcott called "one of the three best mystery stories of all time." Having read it, I think this is somewhat less than the truth, particularly for Milne's annoying habit of stepping out of third-person narration to indulge in "nudge, nudge, wink, wink, isn't this fun" behavior with the reader. Milne also said in his nonfiction collection If I May that inventing exotic poisons and so forth was perfectly okay when writing a mystery novel, a point of view that irritated Raymond Chandler, who believed in fair play with the reader. In his landmark essay "The Simple Art of Murder," Chandler analyzes Red House and concludes regarding Milne's book, "He is up against a number of deadly things, none of which he even considers."

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