Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Notes on Agatha Christie

  • She really has a knack for detailed and vivid description, genuinely human dialogue, both conceiling and revealing clues and red herrings in a way that builds to the climax. It is really hard to put her books down.
  • She is usually pretty psychologically astute, but occasionally her (masterful) manipulation of events shows through in an undermotivated action or decision on the part of one of the characters.
  • No one in my family actually likes Poirot or Marple as characters, although we certainly enjoy the books they appear in. We all agree that we enjoy better the ones they don't appear in.
  • She seems to have an obsession with Americans. They appear frequently in her stories. When they do she overdoes the slang, causing me to cringe. It isn't quite right--seems studied and overwrought--not natural.
  • She seems to have a typically British Guy Fawkes Day type abhorrance of things Catholic. I am always disappointed when I find perfectly intelligent Brits who are so unreflective about this prejudice. It's "civilization vs. those benighted, superstitious, jesuitical, untrustworthy not-quite-full Englishmen."--the very attitude that Waugh addresses by portraying the real Catholicism in Brideshead.

Ward on inculturation

I think this is a better and more poetic explanation of "inculturation" than most of the ones you see in pop theology these days. From Masie Ward's Saints Who Made History: the First Five Centuries (New York: Sheed and Ward [who else?], pp. 217-8), while explaining the eloquence of the Vulgate:
We have seen in earlier chapters the language problem in relation to theological definition: we shall meet it again. But with St. Jerome and the Scriptures we have something more like a picture; words are colours, they are shapes. Christianity makes a new and vivid literature, as a great artist creates a new sort of painting. This new supernatural art is expressed not in [dogmatic] defintions alone, but even more richly in the liturgy and the Scriptures, as they are given to one race after another in forms suited to the genius of their different tongues but all alike coloured by the supernatural.