The Panda

Mon Apr 12, 2010

An article of mine on John le Carre’s The Secret Pilgrim appears in the latest issue of Clues: A Journal of Detection. Here’s the abstract:

The Secret Pilgrim was John le Carré’s first novel to consider the end of the Cold War. The author describes how the novel’s embedded structure reveals le Carré’s political perspective more clearly than previous works and argues that this narrative frame is an adaptation to the sudden collapse of le Carré’s traditional subject matter.

There’s a special section of the issue devoted to Chester Himes, which I look forward to reading. The article on le Carre derived from something I did with my master’s thesis, which was mainly a narratological project. There I was mostly interested in the ideological constraints on the text’s embedding; the idea that such transformations would be rule-governed in two different—but analogous—senses interested me greatly at the time and still does. The Secret Pilgrim is an ideal text, so it seemed to me at the time, to explore such transformations because of its political situatedness (which is what the Clues essay mostly explores) and the transparency of its framing narrative. This is yet another text where the editorial correspondence might be fascinating. (Maybe the HRC has already made arrangements for le Carre’s papers; it wouldn’t surprise me.)

In other news, I got a copy of John Bender’s and Michael Marrinan’s The Culture of Diagram (Stanford, 2010) in the mail today. The first thing I’m doing, is I tend to do with scholarly books, is make notes in the bibliography about things I’ve read, have heard of, and/or want to read. I feel that most of the time I can plausibly reconstruct the argument of a scholarly book by reading its bibliography first, and I think it’s a great exercise to get into. (Maybe amazon’s and google’s databases can be used to discover new things about citation patterns. If only there were more readily available APIs…)