Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Agatha Christie: An Autobiography

I don't think it's a surprise to anyone that I'm a fan of Agatha Christie. Her mysteries are really clever, and she always seems to have a happy ending. Which is why, I was really happy to find that she wrote an autobiography. Now, autobiography's are subjective things, the author can choose to emphasise certain aspects, or gloss over them (like her disappearance for a few days). But all-in-all, this autobiography made me think of her as a warm, humorous lady.

I knew that my life and hers were very different, but I don't think I appreciated how different it was. I quite appreciate the literary schools of thought that emphasise the context of the book in its analysis. While I'm extremely likely to do an analysis of any of her books (too much of a good thing), I still hold that knowing her background is extremely useful. For example, I now know why she always emphasised the happy (romantic) ending - or at least, I hypothesise that it's due to the lack of happy marriages in her life, or as she put it:

"Up to date I have only seen four completely successful marriages."

There are many other things of course, but the other thing that sticks out in my mind is what a humorous lady she was. I like to think I have a sense of humour (who wouldn't!), but whether it's true or not, it's really up to you. There are people who might think I'm just lame, or that I have no sense of humour (but really, reading a lot does not mean boring). Or maybe, I just have this strange sense of humour, since I enjoy puns or jokes based on literary works. Such as talking about how The Woodpile by Robert Frost is literally his own quote about poetry "riding on its own melting" (approximate quote), since it begins in winter and ends with the "slow smokeless burning of decay". Yeah I know, it's a strange sense of humour. But Agatha Christie? She is humorous. As proof, here's a paragraph from her epilogue:

"It is, of course, all very well to write these grand words. What will really happen is that I shall probably live to be ninety-three, drive everyone mad by being unable to hear what they say to me, complain bitterly of the latest scientific hearing aids, ask innumerable questions, immediately forget the answers and ask the same questions again. I shall quarrel violently with some patient nurse-attendant and accuse her of poisoning me, or walk out of the latest establishment for genteel old ladies, causing endless trouble for my suffering family. And when I finally succumb to bronchitis, a murmur will go around of 'One can't help feeling that it really is a merciful relief'."

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