• Agatha Christie's Impossible Vacation

    Author(s):
    Shawna Ross (see profile)
    Date:
    2016
    Subject(s):
    Literature, Modern
    Item Type:
    Presentation
    Meeting Title:
    The Long Weekend: Popular Literature in Interwar Britain
    Meeting Org.:
    Modern Language Association
    Meeting Loc.:
    Chicago, IL
    Meeting Date:
    12 January 2014
    Tag(s):
    Agatha Christie, leisure, Modern literature
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6RS4D
    Abstract:
    To explore why many of Christie’s crimes occur in leisure spaces (from golf courses and hunting lodges to palace hotels, seaside resorts, and cruise ships), I want to focus on a few of Christie’s interwar Poirot novels, namely, The Murder on the Links (1923), Peril at End House (1932), Murder on the Orient Express (1934), and Death on the Nile (1937). Adapting sociologist Chris Rojek’s critical approach to leisure studies, I will create a parallel between Poirot’s inability to relax and readers’ conflicted attitudes toward the pleasure reading of mass-market fiction. What emerges while scrutinizing Poirot as a working vacationer is that Christie interpollates the reader as another working vacationer—partly through the inclusion of gossip columns and Shakespearean rustics and partly through Christie’s sophisticated critique of popular culture’s adaptation of psychological and juridical analysis as a pleasurable pastime. The reader of genre fiction, while ostensibly relaxing, is, in searching for whodunnit, therefore performing the cultural work of psychology, forensics, and ethics. By reproducing concerns about professionalized leisure in the reader’s experience of pleasure reading, Christie illuminates larger cultural anxieties about leisure during this period. The true crime in these Poirot novels, then, is not the murder of a socialite than it is the theft of a reader’s leisure.
    Metadata:
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    6 years ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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