Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ferdowsi is a bit like Max Allan Collins, too

Rostam rescues Bizhan from the pit,
from a 17th-century manuscript of

the ShahnamehLondon, British Library
I've been reading Max Allan Collins' Quarry novels in preparation for a panel I'll moderate at Bouchercon in November. I've also been reading the Shahnameh, Iran's national epic, a book in connection with which I invoked Raymond Chandler yesterday.

One of those books includes a sequence in which the hero falls for the wrong dame and winds up getting drugged, kidnapped, and imprisoned despite the following precaution:
"He always carried in his boot / A blue-steel dagger."
Can you guess where in my recent reading that's from? (Hint: The book was written in the 10th and 11th centuries.)

While you're doing that, join once again in a favorite Detectives Beyond Borders game, and name some great literature that shares elements with crime fiction.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Blogger RT said...

Corrected Comment: Here is an arguable assertion: Almost all great fiction seems to include crime(s) of some sort. Name almost any novel or short story, and if you examine that work of fiction, you will most likely discover someone's transgression against another person, against society, against God, against the self, etc. The transgression(s) may not rise to the level of indictable offense(s), but those deviations of behavior are the fuel that drives plot and character in fiction. I challenge you to name one work of fiction -- one with real merit -- that does not include such transgression(s) (i.e., crime(s)). Every title that comes to my mind fits the pattern. Show me where I am wrong.

September 28, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Right you could well be. But heroic adventure stories, such as the Shahnameh, are probably heavier on the crime elements than are some other genres. And the motif of the concealed dagger, which Max Allan Collins' Quarry uses in both Quarry novels UI have read recently, ws too good to pass up.

A better way to phrase the question might be to ask from which literary genres crime fiction is most directly descended.

September 28, 2014  
Blogger RT said...

Try this one: Once upon a time there were two sons who lived on a farm. One tended flocks, and the other was a gardener. One was jealous of the other, so he murdered the other. Suddenly, the owner of the farm showed up and began asking questions. Cain, however, had no alibi, and the owner quickly figured out the mystery. The End.

September 29, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You could flesh that story out a little. Maybe the killer gets warned off: "No one messes with the boss and gets away with it."

September 30, 2014  

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