Agatha Christie: Mysterious Woman

In addition to the 3 novels that readers are familiar with, Agatha Christie has also written other 63 detective mystery novels and a large number of short novellas and screenplays, with a total sales of more than 2 billion copies. If you add up the total sales of all her writings, only the Bible and Shakespeare’s works can match her. Speaking of the movies “Tragedy on the Nile”, “Murder on the Orient Express” and “Crimes in the Sun”, most Chinese people, especially middle-aged people over 40, would blurt out “know”. In fact, she is still very influential among Chinese literary circles and literary lovers, and she enjoys the down-to-earth title of “grandma”. The writer Wang Anyi said: I read Grandma, and I feel quite simple, that is “enjoy.” You can give up the pursuit of meaning and go straight into the story. She will not let you down. A mysterious death will definitely happen, and then the suspense will definitely have an answer. In her writing “Gorgeous Family”, she comprehensively summarized the detective works of grandma and added her personal insights, which can be regarded as the comprehension and tribute of the writers from the East to the West writers.

Agatha’s Secret Garden
Generally speaking, Agatha is lucky. Her long life experience itself is a garden of colorful flowers. The first sentence in the opening chapter of Agatha’s autobiography is, “I think that the greatest fortune in life is to have a happy childhood.” This sentence is also a portrayal of Agatha’s childhood.

In 1890, she was born in a typical Victorian middle-class family in Torquay, a quiet coastal town in England. The parents are affectionate, the family is well-off, and the family atmosphere is warm and harmonious and full of books. Influenced by his family, Agatha was already a big fan of Dickens and Conan Doyle at a young age. In addition, Agatha also loves music. And received formal vocal and piano training. However, because of her shy nature, she finally gave up her dream of acting due to lack of talent for acting. Also because she was ashamed to deal with outsiders, her early education was undertaken by the tutor hired by her parents. She never received a formal school education in class, nor did she have a diploma or education, but this did not prevent her from embarking on the road of literary creation, and she became a world-renowned novelist. This may have something to do with her unusual talents, she is so happy to be alone. When I was young, I often made up my own stories, and made many fantasy playmates with different personalities, genders, ages, and looks to play different roles in the story, making these “characters” move towards their own different characters due to their differences in personality. Go home and enjoy it. She also has another specialty, that is, she likes mathematics. She wrote in her autobiography: “That is a subject that has always fascinated me.” And this kind of rigorous logical reasoning is the basic element of a successful detective novel. This kind of talent makes Granny’s novels not only entertain the general public, but also withstand the most stringent logical deduction tests of experts.

She was also lucky in her youth. Because of her outstanding appearance, she became the target of many boys. She finally married Archie, a handsome and capable young officer, and gave birth to her only daughter. Afterwards, he took a luxury cruise with her husband for a 10-month voyage around the world. During this period, her talent in detective novel writing was just revealed. Her debut novel “The Strange Case of Stiles Manor”, which she wrote when she was 26, was published after many setbacks. Her life after middle age was basically pleasant and stable, which provided the possibility for her life-long “comfortable writing” and accumulated achievements in writing.

The influence of the works radiates to this day
In 1977, one year after the death of grandma, “The Autobiography of Agatha Christie” was published. In 1978, the movie “Tragedy on the Nile” was released. Since then, films such as “Murder in the Broken Mirror”, “Paid in the Card”, and “Crimes in the Sun” adapted from the novels of Granny have been released successively. In 1993, the “Agatha Christie Research Society” was established. In 2020, China New Star Publishing and Harperklins Publishing Company signed a cooperation agreement to launch a new version (Chinese translation) of the complete works of Agatha. From this point of view, the grandmother can be said to enjoy the fame of her life.

However, “there is no pure gold, no one is perfect”. Granny’s life also has certain parts that appear to be white and slightly flawed from a secular perspective, that is, “mud corners”. However, the judgment of some things is really beyond the world’s ability. At the end of 1926, his grandmother was 36 years old and his only daughter was 7 years old. Agatha, who was suffering from the bereavement of her mother, needed the comfort and care of her relatives. At this moment, her “handsome” husband filed for a divorce with a beautiful girl because of his infatuation with him, and he refused. The sudden blow made the lush garden cultivated by Agatha’s painstaking efforts to collapse in an instant. She used this text to describe the end of her first marriage: “This is the end of my happy, successful, and confident life.”

Stills of “Tragedy on the Nile”.

In 1938, the well-known Agatha Christie bought this huge manor-Greenway Villa, which became an important source of inspiration for Agatha’s novels. It is now open to visitors as a museum and houses copies of the first editions of all Agatha’s novels.

Agatha Christie and her grandson Matthew Pritchard at London Airport.

On one night in early December 1926, after accompanying her daughter to bed, Agatha drove away from home. As a well-known novelist, her disappearance shocked the entire United Kingdom. Hicks, then the Secretary of the Interior, ordered the police to solve the case as soon as possible. As a result, the police published a missing person notice in the newspaper and offered a huge reward for related clues. In order to find Agatha as soon as possible, the police also used a small helicopter to search for the first time. 100,000 volunteers including the creator of Sherlock Holmes and the famous detective novelist Conan Doyle also participated in the search operation. After 11 days of large-scale search, Agatha finally returned to people’s field of vision. It turned out that she had been hiding in a hot spring resort hotel. Strangely, when facing the public again, Agatha insisted that she was “Theresa Neal”, the name of her husband’s mistress. Coincident or deliberate? Afterwards, the doctor performed a physical examination on Agatha and concluded that she was suffering from amnesia because of missing her mother excessively. The missing 11 days was the darkest moment in Agatha’s life. In his autobiography, Agatha talked about many trivial matters in life, but did not mention a word about it. Did she deliberately not mention it, or did she really forget? Only she knows the answer.

Classical “British Murder”
Based on her life experience and aesthetic preferences, grandma created an Arab style called “comfortable murder” by later generations. From the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century, the unspoken rule in the British detective fiction circle was generally popular, that is, detective fictions should not be confused with “pure crime stories”. Certain humor, character descriptions and unique scenes are allowed, but these must be “secondary”. , Subordinate to intellectual and interested.” The characters in detective novels “only meet the needs of logical speculation”, because any in-depth description will “form obstacles in the narrative.” Such novels generally follow a certain geometric structure. Someone has been murdered. Murder is a mystery. The murderer exists in a definite, enclosed space or a definite number of parties. In addition to the obvious motives for killing (such as inheritance, scoring, and killing), there are hidden interpersonal relationships and motives for killing that have been concealed or even disguised.

According to the above text summarizing the style of detective novels, the old virgin Poirot with “gray cells in his brain” portrayed in the novels of the grandmother and the old virgin Miss Marple, who is a little bit mother-in-law, are all detectives who can guide everyone. . The “comfortable murder” with Arab characteristics also has some conditions, first of all, the setting of the location of the crime. She usually sets the scene of the crime in a place with “fascinating scenery”, mostly based on the stable, balanced, and comfortable rural world of Britain. As grandson and grandson of Agatha Christie Co., Ltd. Matthew Pritchard said in “To Chinese Readers”, “These stories give us a wonderful picture of England”, so we will temporarily Granny’s garden is called “Victoria Garden”. Her later works have been deeply involved in the Middle East and Africa, and occasionally mixed with exotic flavors. Readers can also appreciate the beautiful scenery on both sides of the Nile River, and the desolate and wild deserts of West Asia such as Iraq, Syria, and Jordan.

Strong desire to maintain social stability and order
Murder is a disturbance to the social order. With the help of some superintendent detectives, they will surely find out the real culprit and bring innocence to the innocent victims. Just like Poirot, who has a strong habit of cleanliness and can’t tolerate a little dust on her leather shoes, grandma has a strong view of order in the real society and can’t tolerate a little chaos and uncleanness in society. In the world she envisioned, the streets are tidy, the scenery is beautiful and charming, people are decently dressed, behave elegantly, and speak decently. Even the bloody crime of murder should be at least calm in appearance. If nothing happened. The murderer should stand outside the gate of his villa, greet his neighbors, and talk about his murdered wife or husband. This unusual description in the ordinary is more subtle and fascinating than the obvious and straightforward violence, horror, terror and blood. Granny adopts this kind of “comfortable murder” to make anyone can become a murderer, and finally reveal the reason why he or she became a murderer.

Whether Poirot or Miss Marple, they can sentence everyone to death in the virtual world and restore the ideal social order to the world. Paradoxically, grandma’s own world can never be restored. She revealed in the semi-autobiographical novel “Half Portrait” that she briefly feared that her first husband Archie might commit the murder of Dr. Crippen (a case in which a husband murdered his wife in England in 1910). Does this reveal the most fundamental reason why she wrote detective novels all her life?