The Saint, P.G. Wodehouse, and copy editing
The introducer, one John Goldsmith, claims a place for author Leslie Charteris alongside (or above) the stars of British adventure writing of the early and middle twentieth century. The Saint was a rule breaker, Goldsmith writes, free of the anti-Semitism and racism of his upper-class British fictional counterparts. Goldsmith also offers an astute discussion of Charteris' literary style.
The introduction's one conspicuous weakness is Goldsmith's account of his trip to "a remote fishing village on the coast of Brazil," where "when I mentioned the Saint faces lit up, recognition was instant. It was smiles and ecstatic cries of ‘El Santo! El Santo!’ all round." Why the Brazilian villagers spoke Spanish rather than Portuguese is a mystery to be solved by Goldsmith, his copy editor, or, just maybe, a linguist. (Read Goldsmith's introduction at the Hodder & Stoughton website.)
Wodehouse lovers will also note the name of the Scotland Yard detective Claud Eustace Teal, whom Charteris introduced in 1929 — six years after Wodehouse had created Bertie Wooster's unforgettable scapegrace cousins Claude and Eustace Wooster in The Inimitable Jeeves. That makes Charteris the earliest crime writer known to your humble blogkeeper to have paid apparent tribute to Wodehouse. He joins such later authors as John Lawton and Ruth Dudley Edwards.
And finally, a tip of the Yorkshire wool cap to Zoë Sharp, who talked up Charteris and The Saint at Crimefest this year.
© Peter Rozovsky 2013