“It gains an everlasting youth”

If we can read a popular detective tale six times it is only because we can forget it six times. A stupid sixpenny story (no half-hearted or dubious stupidity, but a full, strong, rich, human stupidity), a stupid sixpenny story, I say, is thus of the nature of an immortal, inexhaustible possession. Its conclusion is so entirely fatuous and unreasonable that, however often we have heard it, it always comes abruptly, like an explosion, like a gun going off by accident. The thing is so carelessly written that it is not even consistent with itself: there is no unity to recall. The reader cannot be expected to remember the book when the author cannot remember the last chapter. We cannot guess the end when the writer does not seem to know it. Such a story slips easily on and off the mind; it has no projecting sticks or straws of intelligence to catch anywhere on the memory. Hence, as I say, it becomes a thing of beauty and a joy forever. It gains an everlasting youth… It is beautiful and comforting to think what a vast army of amazingly brilliant detectives I have forgotten all about.

The Illustrated London News, 4 November 1905.

Published in: on June 20, 2007 at 5:00 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. They are disrespecting our Chesterton over on the National Review Online! To arms…


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