Jolly Good Detecting: Humor in English Crime Fiction of the Golden Age
By: Bruce Shaw (author)Paperback
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This book is an appreciation of selected authors who make extensive use of humour in English detective/crime fiction. Works using humour as an amelioration of the serious have their heyday in the Golden Age of crime writing but they belong also to a tradition recognisable to this day. There is an identifiable lineage or stream of humorous writing in crime fiction that ranges from mild wit to outright farce, burlesque, even slapstick. A mix of entertainment with instruction is an identifiable tradition in English letters. English crime fiction writers of this period are raised in the mainstream literary tradition, only that they turned their skills to detective fiction. They are the humorists of the genre. This is not intended as an exhaustive study but as an introduction into the best produced by a handful of very capable and enjoyable authors. What the humorists seek is to surprise the reader by overturning expectations using a repertoire of stylistic conceits and motifs (recurring incidents, devices, and references). Humour has a liberating effect but is concerned too with "comic contrast" through ugliness and caricature (Freud).
In crime fiction one effect is intellectual pleasure at solving (or attempting to solve) a puzzle. Among less serious authors, the effect is to entertain through laughter although serious undertones remain.
Bruce Shaw did his early professional work in anthropology, compiling oral history of aboriginal Australians. Later, he took up English literature. He lives in Perth, Western Australia.
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- ID: 9780786478866
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