Jolly Good Detecting: Humor in English Crime Fiction of the Golden Age

Jolly Good Detecting: Humor in English Crime Fiction of the Golden Age

by Bruce Shaw

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This book is an appreciation of selected authors who make extensive use of humor in English detective/crime fiction. Works using humor as an amelioration of the serious have their heyday in the Golden Age of crime writing but they belong also to a long tradition. There is an identifiable lineage of humorous writing in crime fiction that ranges from mild wit to outright farce, burlesque, even slapstick. A mix of entertainment with instruction is a tradition in English letters. English crime fiction writers of the era circa 1913 to 1940 were raised in the mainstream literary tradition but turned their skills to detective fiction. And they are the humorists of the genre. This book is not an exhaustive study but an introduction into the best produced by the most capable and enjoyable authors. What the humorists seek is to surprise the reader by overturning their expectations using a repertoire of stylistic conceits and motifs (recurring incidents, devices, references). Humor has a liberating effect but is concerned too with "comic contrast" through ugliness and caricature. In crime fiction one effect is intellectual pleasure at solving (or attempting to solve) a puzzle. Another is entertainment but with serious undertones.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476613963
Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
Publication date: 12/19/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 324
File size: 1 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Bruce Shaw did his early professional work in anthropology, compiling oral histories of aboriginal Australians. Later, he took up English literature. He lives in Perth, Western Australia.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Abbreviations viii
Preface and Acknowledgments 1
Introduction 5
 1. A Crime Fiction Lineage 31
 2. The Crime Fiction of E. C. Bentley (1875–1956) 51
 3. The Plush Toy Mystery: A. A. Milne (1882–1956) 78
 4. Best of the Farceurs I: Margery Allingham (1904–1966), from Thriller to Detective Novel 92
 5. Five Women of the Golden Age 126
 6. Best of the Farceurs II: John Dickson Carr (1906–1977) 145
 7. Best of the Farceurs III: Edmund Crispin (1921–1978) 170
 8. Best of the Farceurs IV: Nancy Spain (1917–1964) 208
 9. Continuing the Tradition 237
10. Conclusion 263
Bibliography 267
Index 285

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