sexta-feira, 28 de novembro de 2014

PD James, crime novelist, (1920-2014)

Literatura policial, segundo a maioria dos criticos, não é grande literatura: pulp fiction, é  o nome usado pelos mais metidos a besta.  Naturalmente, discordo. Não nego a existência de  varios trabalhos de qualidade duvidosa, mas a maioria dos autores ingleses  pode ser considerada literatura, sem a necessidade de usar o adjetivo - depreciativo - policial. É o caso do falecido Reginald Hill - um dos meus favoritos - e da P D James e da Ruth Rendell, para citar apenas alguns nomes.  Grande perda, para a literatura e justamente quando se aproxima o verão brasileiro..

More than any other British writer, PD James elevated the detective story into the realms of literature, with the psychology of the characters treated in the most complex and authoritative fashion. For almost half a century she was the UK’s queen of crime fiction.
James, who has died aged 94, owed this long­ success to elegant writing, striking characterisation – notably of Commander Adam Dalgliesh, the poet-policeman protagonist with whom she admitted to being “somewhat in love” – and a refusal to write the same book over and over again, even though some elements often satisfyingly reappeared.
Her plots, too, were full of intriguing detail and studded with brilliantly observed locales and milieux. A particular speciality was the isolated setting, a nod back to predecessors from the genre’s golden age, with none more remote from the everyday than 2001’s Death in Holy Orders.
Taking the apparatus of the Agatha Christie detective novel, James enriched it with far greater psychological realism and rendered her detective protagonist a more rounded and plausible figure than Christie’s Hercule Poirot, who was largely an assembly of eccentricities cast in the mould of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.
Baroness James of Holland Park, as she became in 1990, published her first crime novel in 1962. Among modern female writers of detective stories in the UK only Ruth Rendell, her friend and fellow member of the House of Lords, offered any real competition. (The two cheerfully disagreed over politics – James was an “eternally rebellious” Conservative peer who frequently dissented from the more retrograde views of her party, while Rendell served on the Labour benches.)
Born in Oxford on August 3 1920, Phyllis Dorothy James was one of three siblings. Her father worked for the Inland Revenue and she was to hold a civil service post herself. In 1941 she married Ernest White, a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps, and the couple worked together at Westminster hospital, through the Blitz.
Her two daughters were born during the second world war but James had a taste of personal tragedy when her husband was diagnosed as schizophrenic; he died at the age of 44, having been unable to work. James, obliged to be the breadwinner, took a course in hospital administration and worked with the North Western Regional Hospital Board between 1949 and 1968.
While her children were at boarding school she realised an ambition: to write a book. ­­A new career was inaugurated when Faber agreed to publish her. She was in one sense a replacement for Cyril Hare, the company’s sole crime writer, who had died in 1958. Writing was to be her métier for the rest of her life – though, moving to the Home Office, she long maintained her day job.
James’s first really distinctive novel was the 1971 Shroud for a Nightingale, where the quality of the writing matched that of many a more respectable “literary” work. And it is for the long series featuring her highly civilised copper Dalgliesh that she is best known. In her depiction, he keeps professionally busy to cover the missing elements in his private life (he is left emotionally scarred by the death of his wife in childbirth) and is essentially a lonely man.
James once said that she was “a passionate believer in personal freedom”. But this was not a freedom she much accorded her doughty detective, a man in thrall to a variety of responsibilities. And with a few exceptions, she did not allow him a very satisfactory love life.
In spite of Dalgliesh being a modern detective, James often inserted him into the constraints of the golden age style of crime narrative, with all its cloistered settings, unpleasant victims­-in-­waiting and leery suspects (an expression of the author’s playfulness with the familiar conventions she both enjoyed and was impatient of). Still, the clichés of the genre were kept at bay by the dark
psychological impulses beneath the ordered surfaces of her fiction.
In detailed television adaptations starring Roy Marsden, James was particularly pleased that all of her subplots and characters were incorporated into these leisurely multi­-part dramas; she was less happy with a later Martin Shaw incarnation.
Most recently, readers were granted a beguiling (if slight) tribute to the author’s beloved Jane Austen with her Death Comes to Pemberley, which was little more than a jeu d’esprit towards the end of a lengthy career. James, always a hard worker, was writing a new detective story at the time of her death on Thursday; The Private Patient in 2008 was her final Dalgliesh novel.

Fonte: FT