Dear Associates,

I am the literary critical detective.

In my work I examine the mise en scene of classic detective stories carefully, paying attention to the smallest metaphorical detail, sifting through the facts and then distorting them according to my whim.
My friends have been kind enough to express some interest in my observations and so to this end I am making this journal available. I hope that you might also find it of some interest.

The Literary Critical Detective.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Literary Critical Detective En Plein Air.

The time I have spent in these same old spaces has lead me to keep thinking the same old thoughts.

My ongoing case presents peculiar challenges that I will not be able to overcome with these worn out ideas. I must admit that even my most radical readings will not serve in this instance.

I knew I had to change something. I knew that, despite the fact that there is no place that I would normally rather be than in my study, where the still air is filled with the smell of those books accumulated over long years, the burning wick of my candle and warm sealing wax, I would have to leave my comfortable environment.

So this morning I packed up my notes, my books, my stationary and my hat and left these cluttered streets behind. I adopted the Romantic pose and headed out into the country. I became the literary critical detective en plein air.

After walking for an hour across fields I eventually reached an old country monument, a stately reminder of time lost. Here, with my back to a stone post, I sat down and re-arranged my notes in front of me. I looked for the meanings. And as the shadows of clouds drifted across the parklands I felt the shadows moving and lifting from the ideas in my mind. New concepts, new solutions drifted into my own sky. I scribbled these down furiously, occasionally consulting the texts at my feet.

After two hours I became aware that the monument behind me had a door on its front. The thought of this closed portal stopped me dead, I had to put my pen down. The sudden realisation of this locked door struck me as being greatly portentous. It became significant; it seemed to suggest something to me, something that may have a bearing on the case at hand.

Now I have returned home to make sense of all this, if there is sense to be found. Fran├žoise has brought me my evening meal, which I have barely touched, and my wine, which I have nearly finished. I must work.

Comments can be left here or sent to my special postal address.

Friday, 27 May 2011

A Kind of Dream Work

In my fever of literary detection, in the moment of inspiration, I have become the complete opposite of that woeful man on Margate Sands.

Here and now, this instant and in this room, the clues are mounting up. Signs move over one another and things that are usually distant are starting to overlap. Texts are linking to texts.

And isn’t this something like dreaming, or maybe even hysteria? Freud said something about this somewhere, about the connectedness of things in the dream work. I must remain alive to the possibility that my work as the world’s only consulting literary detective is really a kind of dream work.

There’s another clue… I must record it. More to follow.

Friday, 20 May 2011

The Fog of My Stupor

For the literary detective, the most complex problem is what to do in those long hours and days between cases.

Holmes, that supposedly great thinker, turns to the needle and the bow. In so doing he transforms himself from a man of decisive action into a man of utter inaction. He is to be seen slumped on the sofa, unconscious to the world or, alternatively, to be heard sawing away on his violin.

When that Herculean detective, M. Hercule Poirot, retires he moves to a small house in King’s Abbot, complete with its flower beds and vegetable plot. The marrows, we know, cause him such distress that they are sent over the fence into the garden of that most dangerous of neighbours, Dr Sheppard.

As for myself, the literary critical detective, I have spent my time between cases looking back at myself, reflecting on my own life and ambitions. I have reconsidered the thought processes in which I once set so much store. In so doing I have never been too far away from the literary. I have, on certain evenings, played the role of my own chronicler. I have become my own Hastings, my own Watson, and have sought to turn my own life into a fiction. Pen and paper in hand, I have scribbled myself into a different existence, a dreamy half-life of words and memories. These short exercises in distraction have, to my great delight, found favour amongst my associates. Both Thistleton and Bowler have been kind enough to say a few words of encouragement.

But now my mental energies are returning once again. The fog of my stupor is lifting. There is a new case, one that requires me to be at my sharpest. It is also one for which my literary-autobiographical efforts will have been a kind of apprenticeship. For if I am now to discover the solution to the mystery, or at least a solution to the mystery, I will have to turn to fiction. I will have to adopt a new form of discourse, one that is at once critical and poetic.

And so I shall draw the curtains, light the candles on my desk and shut the door. I shall sharpen my pencil, pick up my notebook and turn to the first blank page. And I shall begin the work.