Friday, 16 November 2007

On Murder

I’m reading a lot of Thomas de Quincey at the moment. He’s a writer I’ve somehow missed over the years (and I’m afraid he’s not the only significant gap in my literary education) but I’m finding both his essays and his life story intriguing.

The Oxford World Classics edition of On Murder has an introduction by Robert Morrison. The closing lines of his Introduction struck me as thought-provoking, and worth sharing:

‘In [de Quincey’s] hands, violent crime became a subject which could be detached from social circumstances and then ironized, tamed, analysed, exploited, and avidly enjoyed by his burgeoning magazine audiences, and by generations of murder mystery connoisseurs and armchair detectives who enjoy the intellectual challenge, rapt exploration, and satiric safety of murder as a fine art.’

We don’t hear too much about old Thomas in histories of the genre. Possibly we should.

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