A sad event to record since my last blog – the death has been annouced from Canada of Josef Skvorecky. Coming so soon after the death of former President, Václav Havel, these have been especially poignant days in recent Czech history. Skvorecky was one of the instigators of the Prague spring in 1968 and had to flee Czechoslvakia in the wake of the Russian invasion later that year; as a result his abhorrence of totalitarianism, its absurdities and cruelties, permeate much of his work. He became a Professor of English at the University of Toronto and set up a Czech language publishing house in Canada which enabled the printing of a number of works by Czech authors, including Havel. Apart from his other novels Skvorecky wrote four volumes of excellent detective stories about a Lieutenant Boruvka which are by turns witty, even humorous and yet profound. They include an excellent locked room murder called ‘The Case of the Horizontal Trajectory’ and a series of stories, in a much darker tone, set during the occupation. I feature a critique of Skvorecky’s detective fiction in the last chapter of Narratives of Enclosure as a classic example of contextuality. The narrative enclosure here is entirely provided by ideology.
My condolences and thoughts go out to his family – a great writer, who will be missed.
After further research I now find that I have a straight choice to make regarding my next book; to pursue the idea of analysing key classic texts which characterize the Golden Era of detective fiction or look at the genre’s relationship with the ghost story. More in my next blog …
January 12th (2012)