Sunday, 7 October 2012

Enter The Inspector

Anderson fans know that there is a strong Holmesian element in Poul Anderson's works, particularly in "Time Patrol" and "The Queen of Air and Darkness." I also am a Holmesian.

For many years I would say, "There is only one fictional detective and that is Sherlock Homes." When someone agreed and asked, "And would you agree that that one Sherlock Holmes is Basil Rathbone?," I replied, "No, I mean the one in the books." This can include the illustrations. Similarly, James Bond is not Sean Connery. In authentic screen dramatizations, Bond would be played by a previously unknown actor answering the slight physical descriptions given in the books. On the other hand, a character who is introduced on screen does look exactly like the actor playing the part.

Doyle paved the way for characters like Poirot and Hastings in the Introduction to the last Holmes collection, saying that Holmes and Watson would make way for some other detective and his companion.

Now there is at last for me a second fictitional detective. The well cool Inspector Salvo Montalbano stars in an Italian TV series. Having only just learned that this series is a close adaptation of a series of novels and short stories by a writer called Andrea Camilleri, I have bought the first novel in English translation and might be sidetracked from rereading Poul Anderson for a while.

29 comments:

  1. Hi, Paul!

    I certainly agree Poul Anderson was an enthusiastic fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes stories. Besides the ones you cited, Anderson's "The Martian Crown Jewels" has a NON human detective modeled on Sherlock Holmes. And "The Word to Space" has a Jesuit priest DESCENDED from Holmes arch enemy, Professor Moriarty.

    But, besides the Italian gentleman you discovered, might I suggest other mystery writers, both British and American? Such as GK Chesterton's Fr. Brown stories, Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey, the works of John Dickson Carr, or Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe's mysteries.

    Sean

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have read "The Word To Space." Have seen a reference to "The Martian Crown Jewels" but never come across a copy. It has not been in any of the PA collections that I have found despite their overlapping contents.

    One thing I like about the Father Brown series. The continuing villain is converted to the side of good and becomes our hero's companion, as if Moriarty became Watson. But the crucial scene of his conversion happens off-stage! I remember a story where a guy applied Holmesian detective techniques and got the wrong answer whereas Brown's simpler approach got the right answer. I enjoyed one Wimsey novel but never got into Carr or Stout. I believe Wolfe is supposed to be Holmes' illegitimate son? Ian Fleming paid Stout a compliment by having Bond say he liked Nero Wolfe. Most fictitious characters remain fictitious to each other. A lot refer to Holmes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Paul!

      I am sorry you have not yet read "The Martian Crown Jewels." I first read it in Anthony Boucher's classic two volume collection A TREASURY OF GREAT SCIENCE FICTION. And you can now find that story in NESFA Press' much more recent anthology CALL ME JOE: THE COLLECTED SHORT WORKS OF POUL ANDERSON (2009).

      I remember the Fr. Brown story you cited, and how the criminal was won over to repentance and renunciation of crime. I can see how that might have applied to Professor Moriarty. I would need to reread Chesterton's Fr. Brown stories before I can adequately comment further.

      I have never seen any suggestion except from you that Nero Wolfe was Sherlock Holmes illegitimate son. A fascinating idea, albeit those who argue for it would have to explain how Holmes ever met a lady from Montenegro, the country Wolfe was born in.

      It's not surprising that later mystery writers, including Poul Anderson, alluded to Sir Arthur and his great detective. Sherlock Holmes, in a very real way, was the grandfather of all mystery literature.

      Have you read any of Poul Anderson's mystery novels? I remember reading of how Anderson said he enjoyed writing mysteries and would have liked writing more, but it was more profitable to write SF and fantasy.

      Sean

      Delete

    2. I will try to get the CALL ME JOE collection. I read somewhere, but forget where, that Stout dropped hints that Wolfe was Holmes's son. I understand that PA wrote 3 mystery novels but I have never seen them. A couple of his collected short stories belong to that genre, I think.

      Thanks for links to John C Wright. I agree that, of course, CSL's trilogy is sf and extremely imaginative. Wright made me see that maybe some of it is more scientifically grounded than I had thought.

      I was impressed with Chesterton when I was being indoctrinated (as I now see it) in Catholicism but not now. I reread a bit of his ORTHODOXY. (In fact, within Christianity, it is the Eastern Churches that are called "Orthodox" and they never accepted Papal supremacy so, in that sense, Anglicanism returned to "Orthodoxy".)

      In this book, Chesterton seems to be indignant that any Oriental or modern ideas even exist. He describes the closed eyes of Buddha images as "heavy with sleep" and contrasts these with the eyes of Christian saints open in a "frantic" attempt to find good deeds to perform. Of course, sanctity is not "frantic" and meditation is not sleep. In fact, in the Zen tradition in which I practise, we sit for meditation facing a wall with eyes open in order to avoid going into a trance. It seems to me that the meditation is getting me somewhere spiritually and morally at its own rate so, while I am open to debate, I get the impression it would be pretty difficult with GKC?

      Delete
    3. Hi, Paul!

      NESFA Press has published to date four volumes of THE COLLECTED SHORT WORKS OF POUL ANDERSON, of which CALL ME JOE is the first. I should warn you the first volume is marred by typos and misprints. But the next three volumes have far fewer errors.

      Alas, I no longer have the Nero Wolfe books I read many years ago. I would have been fascinated to see any hints that Wolfe was Sherlock Holmes son!

      I have all three of the mystery novels Poul Anderson wrote, with MURDER IN BLACK LETTER now the rarest. Yes, Anderson wrote mystery short stories as well. And even included mysteries in some of his SF and fantasies. Two examples being THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS and THE STARS ARE ALSO FIRE. The latter book includes an ingenious, if cruel, method of assassinating the governor general of Luna for the World Federation.

      And Wright's essays has reminded me I should reread Lewis' "Space Trilogy." The errors of science he made in them were no worse, really, than those of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. In the 1930s science fiction was still a young genre wherein writers were still learning their craft.

      And I still remain impressed by Chesterton! (Smiles) Yes, I recall his criticisms of the philosophy of Buddhism. But I was more interested by his discussion of Zoroastrianism in THE EVERLASTING MAN. GKC had much respect for that faith, considering it the best of the non Christian religions.

      I'm sorry, but you erred a bit about the "Orthodox." There were times when they acknowledged the authority and primacy of the Popes in Rome. The last time being at the Council of Florence, circa 1440. Pride and politics lies at the roots of the tragic schism between Catholics and Orthodox. And not all of the fault lies with the Orthodox.

      Let me recommend a few books: THE CHURCH IN CRISIS: A HISTORY OF THE GENERAL COUNCILS, by Fr. Philip Hughes, SJ. And THE GREAT CHURCH IN CAPTIVITY, by Sir Steven Runciman. The latter is about the Greek Orthodox under Ottoman domination. See esp. the chapter on relations with Rome.

      Btw, both Catholics and Orthdodox consider the Anglicans to be Protestants, not in any way "Catholic." For that, see Fr. Francis Clark's EUCHARISTIC SACRIFICE AND THE REFORMATION.

      Apologies for dumping book lists on you!

      Sean

      Delete
  3. Yes, I mentioned the mystery story within THE STARS ARE ALSO FIRE somewhere on the blog. I also pointed out that there is a strong detective story element in AFTER DOOMSDAY: who murdered Earth?. I discuss CSL on one or two of my other blogs.

    How many Orthodox Churches are there? Greek and Russian, certainly. There are also groups like Mar Thoma, the Ethiopians and Maronites (?) I doubt if all of those have at any time acknowledged the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome? His power took time to grow in Europe and his infallibility was not defined until, I think, 1860.

    ReplyDelete
  4. OK. I have googled Maronites and they are in communion with Rome but the other groups mentioned aren't!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Paul!

      Thanks for your notes. I agree, AFTER DOOMSDAY was another SF mystery by Poul Anderson. With the murder victim being all Earth. And a quite ingenious story!

      The Orthodox churches? The two largest are the Greek and Russian Orthodox. Then there are the Bulgarian, Serbian, Romanian Orthodox. And the "Oriental churches" include the Armenian, the Copts of Egypt and its offshoot in Ethiopia. The Catholic Church recognizes all of them as having valid priestly orders and sacraments.

      And the Maronites belong to the single largest of the Eastern rites in communion with Rome. Plus, they deny ever having been in schism from Rome (they were sometimes isolated from Rome due to Muslim aggression).
      Plus, there are Armenian, Coptic, Chaldean, etc., rites also in communion with Rome.

      Sean

      Delete
  5. Pre-Reformation Christianity is much more diverse than my upbringing indicated. But I still make the point that these ancient Churches were there from the beginning - Indian Christians trace their Apostolic Succession back to Thomas -, and they never even knew of a supremacy of the Bishop of Rome. This institution grew in Western Christendom, I think, because the Empire split, Rome was left as the only Western Church with an Apostolic link (to Peter), its Bishop, who had become Pontifex Maximus (chief priest of the Roman state religion) became a local temporal ruler and, as the spiritual successor of the Roman Empire, claimed a universal authority going against the earlier idea that all Apostolic Successions were equally valid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Paul!

      I'm sorry, but I disagree with some of your comments. Others I find puzzling. If we Catholics recognize a church as having genuine apostolic succession, then that means we accept it as having a share in that succession equal to that Rome has. Also, even some of the Mar Thoma Christians of India have accepted the authority and primacy of Rome.

      I'm sorry, but I disagree with how you analyzed the origins of Papal authority. Far too briefly, I can cite ample evidence from both the NT (with OT precedents) and writings of the Fathers (see, for example, Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, and Irenaeus of Lyons to list merely some of the earliest) for that authority and primacy. LONG before the Empire in the West fell.

      And the tmeporal role played by the popes, beginning with Gregory the Great, was at first an unwanted accident thrust on them by the collapse of Byzantine rule in Italy. The popes came to value the Papal states as a means of preserving their independence from secular states and harassment.

      I in fact argued like this in a very similar way with Poul Anderson, citing historical evidence (such as the Byzantine St. Theodore Studion's defense of Papal primacy and opposition to state interference in doctrinal matters). He conceded the evidences I offered were historically accurate.

      Abbot John Chapman's STUDIES ON THE EARLY PAPACY is a good collection of articles on Papal history.

      MY view is that even if the Western Empire had not fallen, papal primacy would still have survived. Because I hold it to be of divine origin.

      Sean

      Delete
  6. Some Mar Thoma have accepted Papal supremacy? That I didn't know. But others haven't. That still leaves us with quite a lot of ancient Christians who have full Apostolic succession but have never been aware of a Petrine/Papal supremacy?

    My views are different anyway: if the Apostles were (it is claimed) eyewitnesses, then their immediate successors, the first elected Bishops, had known the eyewitnesses and had heard their testimony first hand, which is the next best thing, whereas anyone becoming a Bishop now can only read the NT accounts like anyone else, so I don't see Bishops as having any special authority and, if I were a Christian, would join a non-episcopal Church. (But that is a different point.)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am, of course, familiar with "Tu es Petrus..." but would interested to learn which OT precedents you refer to?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi, Paul!

    I did some googling, there are about 4.5 million Mar Thoma Christians in India in communion with the Pope. And about 1.5 million Jacobites/Orthodox who are not. And a smaller number of Protestant Mar Thoma who split away from the others. And, of course there are Latin rite Catholics in India (altho I've not yet looked up how many there are).

    I can only touch very briefly on a vast topic, but we Catholics don't believe revelation was found only in the writings of the NT. Rather revelation was transmitted as well by Sacred Tradition and defended and expounded by the Magisterium of the Church. An example of that "Tradition" being the writings of the Fathers. And among other things, they discussed what had been transmitted to them on the nature and authority of validly ordained bishops and the apostolic succession. Two very early examples being the Letters of St Ignatius of Antioch (c. AD 107) and St. Irenaeus of Lyons treatise AGAINST HERESIES (circa AD 180).

    Yes, the Matthew 16 text is one of the sources on which the papacy derives its authority. The OT "precedent" I had in mind was Isaiah 22.20-25, where the prophet mentioned how Eliakim was appointed master of the palace and given the power of the "key," of opening and shutting. My point was how some deny that the power of the keys in Matthew 16 meant the power to govern and administer. So, for Isaiah to use the same metaphor with the same meaning contradicts those who deny the "keys" means to govern.

    Again, this was far too brief and has been much more fully discussed in works both old and recent. Such as Abbot Chapman's STUDIES ON THE EARLY PAPACY.

    Sean

    ReplyDelete
  9. Christianity began as a Jewish sect worshiping in the Jerusalem Temple, led by Jesus' brother James. Then, Paul initiated Gentile Christianity, founded Churches and abolished dietary laws. Later, NT editors gave a central role to Peter: the first to recognise Jesus' Messiahship; the rock on which the Church would be built; the first to proclaim the Resurrection; the recipient of a vision abolishing dietary laws. I think Jesus proclaimed the imminent Kingdom and therefore did not talk about building an abiding Church but that idea was around later when Churches had been built and the NT was being written. I am summarising what I understand from books I have read and Biblical scholars whom I have met. It is an interesting, important field of study but, of course, my basic worldview is different, in fact is a synthesis of some of those ancient and modern philosophies that seem to have made GKC apoplectic!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi, Paul!

    I'm sorry, but right I still disagree. St. James was certainly a leader of the Jerusalem Christians (I almost wrote "Jerusalem Catholic," because of Anderson's church of the same name!) but it was stlll PETER who was the leader of the apostles and of the Church as a whole. And St. Paul STILL took care to consult Peter and the other apostles to make sure he proclaimed the same Gospel as they did. But, as you said, we have different world views.

    I am frankly skeptical of the usefulness of much modern Biblical commentary because of how it searches for merely hypothetical sources we have no evidence actually existed. Or because of how many contemporary scholars takes what seems to me an excessively "dissecting," atomizing view of the NT texts.

    The late Fr. Raymond Brown, one of the greatest Biblical scholars of the second half of the 20th century, seems to have shared similar views. This is what I found on page 122 of his AN INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW TESTAMENT: "Extravagant hypotheses based on this hypothetical [Q] document have left their mark on modern "Historical Jesus" research (see Appendix I). The portrait of Jesus the wisdom teacher or Cynic philosopher with no apocalyptic message and no messianic proclamation emerges from speculation about stage 1 of Q Christology--a portrait that some would subsittute for the Jesus of the Gospels and the Jesus of church faith. A bit abrupt but worthy of reflection is the proposal by J.P. Meier, MARGINAL,2.178, that every morning exegetes should repeat, "Q is a hypothetical document whose exact extension, wording, originating community, strata, and stages of composition cannot be known." Linneman, "Is There," is even more acerbic."

    Sean

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am no Biblical scholar. I have been a Philosopher of Religion and a school Religious Education Teacher. I think it is established that Matthew and Luke had 2 common sources: Mark and one other? So the existence of "Q" is not in doubt, just its nature? I remember telling pupils that it was a written or oral source or sources, now lost. (Pretty general.) My reading of Jesus is that: he started, like the Baptist, by preaching that God's kingdom would soon arrive on Earth; he healed; people focused attention on him so that he began to wonder about his own role; he let the impulsive Peter persuade him that he was the Messiah (Peter expressed himself in extravagant terms and "Messiah" was the highest term he knew); Jesus modeled his own Messiaship not on the military leadership of David but on the Suffering Servant passages; he provoked the authorities by processing into Jerusalem with people proclaiming him Messiah; he knew what would result but thought that his vicarious suffering would initiate the kingdom; he died realising that this approach had failed. I give my account of Resurrection appearances in "Evidence for the Resurrection" on my Religion and Philosophy blog. This is me trying to make sense of the Gospel accounts and giving as sympathetic treatment as I can. The kingdom did not come, as Paul expected it to, and the emphasis shifted, in the later Fourth Gospel, to a kingdom that is within.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Paul!

      But I still think you are missing the point Fr. Brown was stressing. That is, excessively fine spun theorizing based on a "Q" document we don't actually HAVE. Based on nothing but tearing out texts from three documents we do have: the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

      In fact, we might already have the real "Q" in the Gospel of Matthew. See David L. Dungan's book A HISTORY OF THE SYNOPTIC PROBLEM for a detailed analysis of why the hypothesis of Markan priority has its weaknesses.

      And Our Lord provoked the authorities because of his MIRACLES, not merely by processing into Jerusalem. He provoked the authorities (here I mean the Sanhedrin) by His claim to authority over the Mosaic Law; in fact, to claiming to be GOD.

      And Christianity makes no sense if Our Lord had not actually and literally risen from the dead. Here I'm reminded of both St. Thomas' "My Lord and my God!" as he met the risen Christ and what St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15.1-19, esp. verses 12-19.

      Recal how, in "A Chapter of Revelation," agreed that the Resurrection was the crucial point. And thus agreed with what St. Paul said in 1 Cor. 15.

      Sean

      Delete
    2. OK. So you do disagree fully with the Q hypothesis? Obviously, I am influenced by the view that Jesus was a Law-observant Jew who did not claim divinity and that this claim was written into the NT as Christianity differentiated itself from Judaism. I agree that Christianity is differentiated by the claim of the Resurrection but I do not accept the latter claim.

      Delete
    3. Hi, Paul!

      "NESFA" means the entity called the "New England Science Fiction Association." One of the oldest SF fan groups in the US.

      First, while I myself am skeptical there was a "Q," Fr. Brown himself leaned to that view. BUT, he was far more moderate and cautious about it than too many other Biblical scholars.

      Of course I agree Our Lord was a Torah observing Jews. I simply affirm as well that He came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets and redeem mankind by his atoning death on the cross and Resurrection.

      I don't know if you have heard of them, but the Oxford Fragments of Matthew's gospel, found in Egypt, seems to show that gospel already existed by the twelfth year of Nero's reign. And if that gospel was written in Antioch/Palestine as some believe, it would need time to get as far as Egypt. Say, circa AD 55. Iow, when many disciples and witnesses who had seen Christ still lived. If true, the Oxford Fragments shows Matthew had an earlier, not later date. Meaning those things like the divinity of Christ and his miracles were believed far sooner than some say.

      Sean

      Delete
    4. Thanks for info re NESFA. My bookseller is trying to track down CALL ME JOE.

      I know James Crossley who argues in THE DATE OF MARK'S GOSPEL that Mark was very early and maybe even had handwritten notes from attenders at Jesus' sermons.

      Delete
  12. Atoning death. Blood sacrifice made sense to Jews and Pagans when Paul preached. The Buddha taught that the best sacrifice was not blood to the gods but food to the poor.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi, Paul!

    And Our Lord's atoning death on the cross continues to make sense to any reasonably well educated Catholics. Again, this is a vast subject impossible to adequately cover here, but this bit from page 34 of Fr. John Hardon's entry for "Atonment" in POCKET CATHOLIC DICTIONARY might help: "Applied to Christ the Redeemer, through his suffering and death he rendered vicarious atonement to God for the sins of the entire human race. His atonement is fully adequate because it was performed by a divine person. In fact, it is superabundant because the positive value of Christ's expiation is actually greater than the negative value of human sin."

    And works of charity are also commanded by Christ, but by themselves cannot bring us to salvation. We cannot "earn" our way to salvation.

    Sean

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Paul!

      I should have added to my previous note that I'm glad James Crossley believes Mark's gospel was written far earlier than most Biblical scholars currently think. I agree and say my belief is most of the NT was written sooner than most who advocate "Q" says it was.

      I'm reminded of Luke's Acts of the Apostles. The dominant view is that work was written in the AD 80's. But, was it? If so, why did not Luke mention Nero's persecution of the Christians, the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul in Rome, and the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans? Instead, Acts ends with St. Paul's first Roman captivity in about AD 60-62. That seems to mean Luke wrote Acts shortly thereafter, around AD 64, before the events I listed above.

      Sean

      Delete
  14. Why is Acts thought to have been written in the 80's? I think James is changing the scholarly consensus on the date of Mark.

    I don't buy "sin". A benevolent creator would help us to develop, not hold us accountable and demand blood.

    ReplyDelete
  15. In "Philosophical Disagreements with CS Lewis" on the Religion and Philosophy blog, I address the question of whether we can have free will in relation to an omnipotent creator.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi, Paul!

    I thought you knew many Biblical scholars believe or believed Acts and the Synoptics were written much later than I think. Far too briefly, a later date was believed to fit in better with the two source/Markan priority/Q theory. In a discussion with another man I touched on this. I'll send it to you.

    Next, let me say at once that sin is real, and is an observable, undeniable fact. That all mankind, including ourselves, is flawed, imperfect, prone to doing, or being tempted to do evil.

    I understand why some have doubts of how mankind can have free will if God exists. Let me propose an analogy: I could come to know of a plot by a group of men to rob a bank--and for one reason or another, be unable to inform the police in time for the crime to be stopped. But, my "foreknowledge" of the crime does not compell the robbers to perpetrate the act. They remain free to either do or not do the crime.

    Sean

    ReplyDelete
  17. Oh yes, I knew that scholars thought the texts were written later. I just asked why they did in light of your comments about Acts (eg, why doesn't Luke mention later events etc?). But you rightly remind me that the Q/oral tradition hypothesis requires more time to have elapsed.

    I acknowledge the observable, undeniable fact that we are flawed, imperfect, prone to evil. In fact, I am trying to do something about that both within myself and in the world at large. I do not use the word "sin" because of its theological connotations.

    I agree that knowledge, including foreknowledge, of an act does not determine the act to occur. I make that point in "Philosophical Disagreements With CS Lewis." I think that the problem is not foreknowledge versus free will but omnipotence versus free will and I argue this case in that article. A human father seeing a child about to touch a hot object can warn the child to desist but can leave him with free will to obey or disobey. However, an omnipotent creator would have made the object hot, would have made the child with a disposition both to touch the object and to disregard the warning. In fact, if, as Lewis argues and as I used to believe, God did not create the world once long ago but creates/sustains it at every moment, then he creates the child wanting to/deciding to/actually touching the object.

    ReplyDelete
  18. We do evil to ourselves and to others but "sin" is offence to God. An omnipotent creator who makes us as we are and who could have made us differently has no cause to be offended by our actions and, even if he did, how could we be atoned by the torture of a single man? This would make no sense in any human moral or legal system. We encourage moral behaviour and restrain those whose actions harm others but we do not think that any good will be achieved by torturing offenders, let alone by torturing one who is believed to have committed no offence.

    ReplyDelete