‘Tis the season to be jolly, so I’m delighted to welcome Kate from CrossExaminingCrime back to my Golden Age detective fiction podcast so that we can discuss those who have sought to be not quite so jolly about our chosen enthusiasm.
The notion of criticising criticism flouts the very conventions of logic and reasoning upon which the Golden Age was built — surely vilifying someone for having an opinion, and dismissing it for being their personal opinion, is itself a matter of opinion and therefore easily dismissed — but the focus of this episode is the notion of where the recurrent themes for which the genre comes under fire came from. Cardboard characters, bloodless corpses, the stain of being ‘popular’ literature — we’ve encountered these criticisms and more, and surely their longevity means they must have some basis in truth, right? Today we shall attempt to find out.
Well, we will a bit, because the difficulty of talking about this sort of topic is that you always end up on some sort of tangent that might be related or might just be fun. Either way, there’s definitely some stuff in here to agree with, some stuff to disagree with, and it’ll hopefully pass a companionable 73 minutes at the end of a year that, frankly, could have been kinder to practically everyone on the planet.
My thanks to Kate for the time and research she put into this, to Jonny Berliner for the music, and to anyone out there who continues to take an interest in this podcast. I undertook this with the intention of it providing some distraction from the demands of 2020, and I sincerely hope that it has done that to one degree or another.
Should you wish to track down any of the texts mentioned in the above, I provide a potentially incomplete list here:
- Crime Fiction: A Very Short Introduction (2015) by Richard Bradford
- Howdunit? (2020) ed. Martin Edwards
- Raymond Chandler Speaking (1962) ed. Dorothy Gardiner and Kathrine Sorley Walker
- Crime in Good Company: Essays on Criminals and Crime Writing (1959) ed. Michael Gilbert
- Murder and Manners: The Formal Detective Novel (1970) by George Grella
- Talking About Detective Fiction (2009) by P.D. James
- Deadlier than the Male: An Investigation into Feminine Crime Writing (1981) by Jessica Mann
- Crime Fiction: The New Critical Idiom (2005) by John Scaggs
- The Technique of the Mystery Story (1913) by Carolyn Wells
If anything is missing, let Kate or me know and we’ll provide what information we can. More In GAD We Trust in a fortnight to usher in 2021; in the meantime, stay safe.
All episodes of In GAD We Trust can be found on the blog by clicking here.