Friday, February 17, 2012

V.C. Clinton-Baddeley : To Study a Long Silence, 1972

He was an actor, writer, screenwriter and mystery novelist. Who? V.C.Clinton-Baddeley.
Born in 1900 in Devon, England, the author, giving heed to what we read in "Revised Crime Fiction IV," by J. Allen Hubin, originally named V (ictor Vaughan Reynolds Geraint) C (linton) Clinton-Baddeley, then reduced VCClinton-Baddeley, she earned a doctorate in history and was a drafter of the modern history section of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, first to become the author of operettas, pantomimes, plays and even television work: among these, one in which he worked as a writer and actor was “The Billiard Room Mystery”.
Author polite, expert in art and theater, chose to set his detective novels - he wrote five in all - in the world who knew very well. This is similar to other mystery writers much more known about him, such as Edmund Crispin or Ngaio Marsh, to exploit the best-known work in order to create the conditions and scenarios best suited for fictional works. Her recurring character, even if on purpose, is a university professor and expert on theater enthusiast, Dr. RV Davie, who delights in doing the detective, who stumbles and, again by chance, in the strange events culminating in murder.
Baddeley is an author, even if sometimes spectacular, is not pleased, preferring silence to the clamor: but his creations are always effective and the result of British atmosphere. Also a writer, although traditionally associated with classical detection, variegate loves the texture of his novels, which have almost never static characterizations, quite the contrary: most often Dr. Davie participates in festivals, festivals of classical music, theater . However, in my opinion, Clinton Baddeley, among the writers of the last half of the twentieth century, is one of those who have learned most of the great British tradition of mystery, creating a new detective, and as the Belgian detective Poirot, the old spinster Miss Marple, Miss Silver and former teacher, can make sense of the more obscure things, just by talking with the people concerned and not, in scenarios criminal citizens: all will be won by his unassuming air, peaceful and good-natured, and they trust that they would never admit to know if the question had been asked by a police officer.
Clinton Baddeley betrays in all her novels, the desire to talk about art and history: the digressions and the possibility of dialogue on issues of crime is lost, are numerous, nevertheless, under no circumstances be tempted to comment that it complicate the novel, because it all flows as if the crime was nothing more than an event which is part of a typical day. In fact, if in other novels by other writers, when the crime occurs, the atmosphere changes, and changes the pace and sequence of events, like a trauma that would change the situation without exception that instead would flow otherwise, in the novels of Clinton Baddeley everything continues as if nothing had happened: the city life continues, and even the life of Dr. Davie continues to flow as usual, and even the afternoon nap is not disturbed.
We witness that a different and interesting way of being in a detective novel: when normally the most famous British novels, when the crime occurs, it changes the atmosphere and the photographic objective of the novelist, rather than take a wide-angle as the surrounding reality of which is also one in which the crime exists (and in particular which can also be a negligible), immediately performs a zooming and examines particularly the environment and the criminal subject that in it are agitated and then detaches the scene, in scenarios Baddeley however, even at the crime occurred, everything continues to run as if nothing new (or almost) had occurred: whether it be a work of theater of the Commedia dell'Arte, as in "To Study in Long Silence ", or that it is immersed in the King's Festival Lacy, as in" Only a Matter of Time ".
Among his novels one that I particularly liked  was "To Study a Long Silence", published posthumously in 1972 by Gollancz
Nice is the title, which while not complying with the original, fits into the theme of the novel with a double meaning: Applause because the crime was conceived almost as a work of art, but also applause because the crime took place in a theater before the public.
Already, before the public. This recalls other great novels, such as "Death of Jezebel" by Christianna Brand, and also "The Roman Hat Mystery" by Ellery Queen in which the eyes of the public, during a theatrical performance is a crime. However, the scenarios, as we said before, are not the same: the atmosphere, the more rarefied and dramatic of Brand and Ellery Queen, it must be said that genuine masterpieces are 2, here we are, but the crime and there is spectacular during a play, Pantaloon, Harlequin and Columbine, Captain Spaventa and Pedrolino, and many other secondary characters, moving, playing roles in a towel, not a text based, but like many others, which causes the laughter of the spectators at some point in the play, Captain Spaventa tries in every way to kill Pantaloon, without success, but pants is death for a disastrous fall in a wheelbarrow, caused by the movement of the range of his wife and the clown brings his body into a wheelbarrow, among the jokes and laughter: no one rather suspects that the actor who plays Pantalone is really dead, murdered.
As you can see the scenic Baddeley invention is remarkable, and betrays his verve as a writer of theater. Unlike the novel of Christianna Brand here we aren’t dealing with a Locked Room, just because a door, through which he could leave the stage, the murderer, instead of being tightly closed, it’s just closed, and so it was just opening at all times. Linking to murder the disappearance of a ring frame, it's a trivial matter to Dr. Davie, after a second murder will give a sudden snap at each other. However, the killing is not stopped, because he dies in car accident, torn between the twisted metal and glass fragments, during his escape in a car trailed by police cars.
The resolution of the case concludes the novel and explains the sequence of events and how the first murder, which is the soul of the novel, could have been accomplished in so little time and why pants, among all the actors was the only not present to receive the applause.
- "Simple" - some would say - "he was dead."
No. Not so simple. In fact, not at all simple. I can say, without revealing anything substantial, that here the mystery is in some ways opposed to the "Evil Under the Sun", Christie's: to reveal, will be a surprise to readers of this fine novel, which is the last in order of time to have been published, of the five mystery novels Clinton Baddeley.
Thus, we could easily imagine how the sleep of Dr. Davie that the last line of the novel is overcome by sleep, can be seen as a metaphor for the novelist who, shortly thereafter, should have won by the rest .. eternally, dying in 1970.

No comments:

Post a Comment