Paul Morand et le « roman détective »

This entry is bilingual. Scroll down for the English version.

Le roman détective est une partie d’échecs, mais une partie où l’un des joueurs seulement – le lecteur – est de bonne foi; l’auteur triche toujours.

Paul Morand, préface à Lord Peter devant le cadavre de Dorothy L. Sayers (1934)

The detective novel is like a game of chess, but a game with only one of the players (the reader) playing fair as the author always cheats. 

Paul Morand, Foreword to the French edition of Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Views the Body (1934)

Commentaires? Comments?

4 commentaires sur “Paul Morand et le « roman détective »

  1. It’s unavoidable. I think the real question is if the detective has an advantage over the reader. Even then, perfect fairness is rare. The best a reader can hope for is a modulated mystery–not impossible but not a cinch–and a detective who shares most of the discoveries.

    Aimé par 2 personnes

  2. Not always. Sometimes the author gives so much away that the culprit becomes obvious. Examples:
    They Do It With Mirrors by Agatha Christie
    The House On Tollard Ridge by John Rhode
    Les larmes de Sybil by Paul Halter

    Aimé par 2 personnes

  3. I think we take this whole concept of « playing fair » too literally. I’ll grant you that the author « cheats » in that he is manipulating his plot to excise other possibilities in order to push us toward his pre-planned climax. Sure, he can « fairly » prove that nobody else in a closed circle could have done it, but he has to create enormous obstacles to preclude outsiders that, in reality, somebody could get through. But we accept this lack of reality in order to play the game. It’s an unwritten contract between author and reader, and it is « signed » once we open the book and read it. If we are satisfied at the end, we willingly sign another contract with the same purveyor of goods.

    Aimé par 3 personnes

  4. I agree with James and Brad: the statement by Miranda is correct but inconsequential, unless an author ‘overcorrects’ and then essentially ends up in the disappointing situation noted by Santosh.

    Aimé par 1 personne

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