Predictions are a bad idea

Posted by Tory Historian Saturday, January 01, 2011 ,

Tory Historian rarely makes predictions (better not say never but hardly ever will do). One reason is the silliness of predictions found in many books. Books on politics, particularly those that deal with slightly volatile regions are notorious - the vagaries of publishing are such that by the time a book comes out everything would have succumbed to events.

Even more entertaining is reading confident predictions made by critics of yore. Take H. Douglas Thomson's Masters of Mystery, which TH finished on New Year's Eve (with some sliding into 2011). There are several predictions in it, some more serious than others, which are very funny. Among them there is the highly contentious but clearly tongue-in-cheek assertion that the detective story cannot develop as it has already reached perfection. As Mr Thomson himself seems less than impressed with a number of the Golden Age classics, this is clearly a jocular farewell to the reader.

Of more seriousness is his contention that Miss Marple, Agatha Christie's greatest creation, has no real future as a detective. Ha! Even more peculiar is his assertion that with the growth of historical teaching and scientific exploration of evidence historical fiction has had its day. It is possible, that the lack of historical teaching has reversed that trend but TH is very doubtful that it actually happened. Not only has historical fiction been flourishing, it has spread into what might be called literature (with Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall about Thomas Cromwell winning all sorts of literary prizes) and into detective fiction as well with very many detective story writers deciding (often unwisely as has been pointed out on this blog) to set their tales in past times.


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