Thursday, March 01, 2007

In my own words

Stephen King, Agatha Christie and Evelyn Waugh have all put fictional authors into their works. Is it escapism or egotism, asks Mark Lawson in The Guardian.
Agatha Christie's fictional stand-in is Ariadne Oliver, a best-selling lady detective writer who Christie's own sleuth Hercule Poirot reads for distraction while working on a case (in 1963's The Clocks, for example) and who frequently joins him as a deputy in detection. With a playfulness that some might find surprising in such a generally plain stylist, Christie sets up fi ctional mirrors. Oliver's recurring character is Sven Hjerson, a Finnish detective whose adventures frequently test Miss Oliver's very limited knowledge of Finland, in what can be presumed to be a reference to Christie's irritations in satisying an audience desperate for more instalments about a fastidious Belgian.

Christie also used Oliver as a sort of authorial version of a newspaper's ombudsman, admitting to her own errors in previous plots through Oliver's anecdotes about her regrettable slips.

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