McFarland & Co.
Update, 4-26-16. The issue is now on Kindle and Google Play.
Clues 34.1: Reappropriating Agatha Christie
Guest editors: Alistair Rolls and Jesper Gulddal
Reappropriating Agatha Christie: An Introduction
ALISTAIR ROLLS AND JESPER GULDDAL (U of Newcastle)
The Agatha Christie corpus has long been encumbered by agendas and critical perspectives that effectively prevent close analytical scrutiny of her novels. The authors explore possible avenues for a reappropriation of Christie and particularly highlight the need for irreverent rereading that brings to light the textual complexity of her detective fiction.
“Beautiful Shining Order”:
Detective Authority in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express JESPER GULDDAL
Using the work of Pierre Bayard, this essay presents a “counterinvestigative” reading of Murder on the Orient Express (1934) that highlights the undermining of Poirot’s unshakable authority as a detective and his solution. The essay argues that the dénouement fails in accomplishing complete transparency and reducing the literary complexity of Christie’s plot.
Agatha Christie and the Fantastic Detective Story
SUZANNE VAN DER BEEK (Tilburg U, The Netherlands)
The author problematizes the restrictive categorization of Agatha Christie’s novel And Then There Were None via the critique by Tzvetan Todorov in his study on the literary fantastic. Christie’s work, she argues, overthrows the dichotomy between the natural and the supernatural as well as creates a fantastic detective novel.
Metafictional Agatha Christie: Self-Parody as the Perfect Crime
IRENA KSIĘŻOPOLSKA (U of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw)
The author examines the narrative structure of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, emphasizing the self-reflexive quality of the novel and seeking to establish
its parodic intentions. Through the use of formulaic unreliability, clichéd characters, facile plot devices, and a comic detective, Agatha Christie deliberately constructs her text against the conventions of the genre.
Transforming Justice? Murder on the Orient Express 1934–2010
MERJA MAKINEN WITH PATRICK PHILLIPS (Middlesex U)
This essay compares the Agatha Christie novel Murder on the Orient Express (1934) and the Phillip Martin adaptation (2010). Viewing adaptations as transformations, the essay analyzes four differences; genre production, violence, justice, and Hercule Poirot, to argue for two differently rich texts sharing the same plot and characters across different media.
Agatha Christie’s Dead Man’s Folly:
Stagnation, Negation, and Adaptation
Two film adaptations of Agatha Christie’s Dead Man’s Folly can assist in deconstructing the novel as a textual folly. A comparison of Dead Man’s Folly to The Body in the Library reveals that Christie’s tricks in the latter text, which may or may not have fooled Miss Marple, are also played on Hercule Poirot.
A Fitting End:
The Country House, Agatha Christie, and Dead Man’s Folly
STUART BARNETT (Central Connecticut State U)
Agatha Christie is often associated with the English country house and, by extension, a conservative and nostalgic politics. However, examination of her work—in particular, Dead Man’s Folly (1956)—reveals a pointed critique of the class of country-house owners.
In the Apothecaries’ Garden with Agatha Christie
SYLVIA A. PAMBOUKIAN (Robert Morris U)
A dispensary assistant in her youth, Agatha Christie always depicted poisons in her fiction as complex entities, at once plant, medicine, and poison. In texts spanning her long career, Christie undermined clichés about the nature of poisons, poisoning, and the poisoner, especially through the character of gardener-sleuth Miss Marple.
Mundane or Menacing?
“Nobodies” in the Detective Fiction of Agatha Christie
NICOLA BISHOP (Manchester Metropolitan U, UK)
In the changing cultural perceptions of clerks, Agatha Christie moves from characterizing two-dimensional “nobodies” to developing menacingly anonymous super-criminals. In examining the position of the clerk within early-twentieth-century culture, the author offers a new class reading of Christie’s middlebrow fiction.
Trauma and Modernity in Agatha Christie’s Late Poirot Novels
JESSICA GILDERSLEEVE (U of Southern Queensland)
Agatha Christie’s last-written Hercule Poirot novels, Hallowe’en Party (1969) and Elephants Can Remember (1972), enact a social and cultural anxiety arising from the problems of modernity and the need to know and understand the past so as to prevent its traumatic return. Only in this way can the detective enact justice.
The Paradox of Miss Marple: Agatha Christie’s Epistemology
KIMBERLY MASLIN (Hendrix College)
In creating her spinster sleuth, Agatha Christie challenges the dominant paradigm of objective, detached, and methodically acquired knowledge by legitimating intuitive and situated knowledge. Her epistemic approach, however, is not so clear since in her attempt to verify feminine epistemologies, Miss Marple resorts to traditional standards of verifiable knowledge.
“This Isn’t a Detective Story, Mrs. Oliver”:
The Case of the Fictitious Author
FRANÇOISE GRAUBY (U of Sydney)
The character of Ariadne Oliver shows the “posture” of the author at work. Repressing the rational stage of composition creates a mythologized figure that inhabits a world of pure fiction. But Mrs. Oliver, by channeling Agatha Christie, also personifies a scrupulously thought-out writing plan.
Remediating Agatha Christie:
Social Media in A Murder Is Announced
KEAGHAN TURNER (Coastal Carolina U)
Agatha Christie’s A Murder Is Announced (1950) is essentially a novel about social media. Approaching this vintage text from the digital age, with a focus on media and communications technologies, reveals startlingly similar anxieties surrounding identity and community, privacy and voyeurism, and isolation and violence. Christie’s novel is revealed as ahead of its time.
A Case of Ontology: Sherlock Holmes and New Critical Games of Shadows (covers Kerr, Conan Doyle; Ue and Cranfield, eds., Fan Phenomena; Vanacker and Wynne, eds., Sherlock Holmes and Conan Doyle)
CHRISTOPHER PITTARD (U of Portsmouth)
Marty Knepper, Guest Book Review Editor
Isabel Anders. Miss Marple: Christian Sleuth. PHYLLIS M. BETZ
John Curran. Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making and Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making—More Stories and Secrets from Her Notebooks.
DIANE M. CALHOUN-FRENCH
Hilary Macaskill. Agatha Christie at Home.
Agatha Christie Mallowan. Come, Tell Me How You Live: An Archaeological Memoir.
Agatha Christie, auth.; Mathew Prichard, ed. The Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery. JOHN TEEL