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IrvineValleyCollege:OnlineLiteratureStudyoftheSchoolofHumanitiesand
Languages

Literature110PopularLiterature
Spring2013Ticket#62740/MarjorieCoverleyLuesebrink,MFA,Instructor

Unit4:EnduringCrimes
TheLodger,MarieBellocLowndes
Inthisunitwewillbeexpandingthegenretolookattheumbrellacategory,Crime
Fiction.WewillbereadingMarieBellocLowndes'*TheLodger.*

CoverforLowndes'TheLodger
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Althoughitmightseemsomewhatoutoforder,wereadasubsectionofthe
CrimeGenrefirst,withtheGumshoeDetectivegenrenovel,*TheBigSleep*.
Themainreasonforthisisbecausethepareddownandeasilyvisible
structureofmostdetectivestoriesmakesitfeasibletoseetheessentialsof
thegenreplotandtospotthemaintenetsofgenrefiction.CrimeFiction,as
wesawearlier,includesnotonlyallthevarietiesofdetectivestoriesbutalso
consistsof"PsychologicalThrillers""InternationalThrillers""Techno
Thrillers"youcanseealistofthrillersanddescriptionsontheReader's
DigestBestThrillersofallTimepage.
CrimeFictionisdescribedindetailonthe"FindMeAnAuthor.com"pageas
follows:
Crimefictionisthegenreoffictionthatdealswithcrimes,theirdetection,criminals,and
theirmotives.Mostthoughnotallcrimenovelscrimenovelsshareacommon
structure.Firstthereisthecrime,usuallyamurderthenthereistheinvestigationand
finallytheoutcomeorjudgement,oftenintheshapeofthecriminal'sarrestordeath.
Crimeisusuallydistinguishedfrommainstreamfictionandothergenressuchasscience
fictionorhistoricalfiction,butboundariescanbe,andindeedare,blurred.Thegenre's
flexibilityisperhapsonereasonforitswideandenduringappealandmeansdifferent
thingstodifferentpeopleatdifferenttimes.Unlikesomeliteraryfiction,thecrimenovel
retainsmanyofthetimehonouredtechniquesoffictioncharacter,theme,narrative,
tension,etc
Thereisnowsuchahugevarietywithinthegenre,italsohasseveralsubgenres,
includingdetectivefiction(includingtheclassicwhodunnit),legalthriller,courtroom
drama,hardboiledfiction,PoliceProcedurals,PrivateEye,Suspense,Thrillersandany
othersubgenreinwhichacommittedcrimeistheleadingmotivatoroftheplot.Indeed
Therearenovelswheretheheroisthecriminalnotthedetective.
Allonecanwithanycertaintyisthatthelabel"crimefiction"isaresilientconvenience
forthosewhouseit,notanexactterm.

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THELODGER,The1926moviewasAlfredHitchcocksfirstfulllengthfilmand
suspensethriller.Aninnocentmanismistakenlyaccusedofbeingthemurderous
Avenger.
Noteespeciallythatthedefinitionisa"convenienceforthosewhouseit"
andnotahardandfastboundary!ThedefinitionofCrimeFictiononthe
WikipediapageismuchthesamebutIwouldlikeyoutoreadthisentryall
thewaythrough!
Crimefictionisthegenreoffictionthatdealswithcrimes,theirdetection,criminalsand
theirmotives.Itisusuallydistinguishedfrommainstreamfictionandothergenressuch
assciencefictionorhistoricalfiction,butboundariescanbe,andindeedare,blurred.It
hasseveralsubgenres,includingdetectivefiction(includingthewhodunnit),legal
thriller,courtroomdramaandhardboiledfiction.
Pleasereadtherestofthisentry!VerygoodbackgroundaboutarangeofCrime
Fiction!

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MoviePosterforStephenKing's*TheShining*
IdentifyingthegenreelementsofmanykindsofCrimefictioncanbetricky.
First,thereistheissueofthenarrator.Indetectivefiction,the"voiceof
discovery"prettymuchhastobetheDetective/Operativehim/herself.In
CrimeFiction,almostanyonewhohassomeaccesstothecrimecanstepin
totellthetaleorinothercasesthenarratorisan"omniscient"author
narratorwhoadoptsaspecificPointofViewtowardthestory.
Dependingonhowmuchthenarratorknows,andwhensheknowsit,the
revelationofthefinishingdetailsofthecrimecanbecircuitousormore
direct(butalmostneverasdirectasthedetectivenarrator!).Anotherfeature
ofmanyCrimenovelsisthatwedon'tnecessarilygetdozensof"cardboard"
suspectslotsoftimesthesuspectishiddenorindistinct(asinthecaseof
*TheLodger*).
ThePsychologicalThriller(ourbestcategoryfor*TheLodger*)isamongthe
favoritesubgenresoftheCrimeNovelthesedays.Manyofthesethrillers
havebeenmadeintoveryscarymovies.StephenKing,ThomasHarris(The
SilenceoftheLambs1988),DennisLehane(ShutterIsland2003)are
contemporarywriterswithawidefollowing.

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AnthonyPerkinsin*Psycho.*OneofthemostdisturbingthingsaboutAlfredHitchcock's
1960thrillerPsychoisthatthecrazedkillerlookslikesomeonewhocouldbeyournext
doorneighbor.
Lowndes'*TheLodger*comesfromanearlierera,butitcontainsallofthe
importantelementsofsuspenseandcreepinessthatwehavecometoexpect
inagoodpsychologicalthrillerstory.Herbook,publishedin1913isoneof
thelandmarkbooksinthegenreestablishingsomeofthemostdurableof
storytraditions.ItisinstructivethatLowndes'bookgetssomeofitsenergy
fromtheenduringfascinationwithJacktheRipperbutitisnottheterrorof
theRipperthatstandsatthecenteroftheplot,butratherthefearand
insecurityofourlandlords,RobertandEllenBunting!Itistheirsecuritywe
worryabout!

FromWikipedia:MarieAdelaideLowndesneBelloc(18681947).
HermostfamousnovelisTheLodger,publishedin1913.BasedontheJacktheRipper
murders,itisaboutaLondonfamilywhosuspectsthattheirupstairslodgerisa
mysteriouskillerknownas"TheAvenger."Thenovelwasthebasisforfourmovie
adaptions.ItwasmadeintoamoviebyAlfredHitchcockin1927,byMauriceElveyin
1932,JohnBrahmin1944,andasManintheAtticin1953.
Takealookatthelistofherworks!

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Egad!JacktheRipper'sVictims
AswecanseeMarieBellocLowndes'"TheLodger"keepsgettingrecycled.
Amongothers,thereareversionsbyAlfredHitchcock(1926,hisfirstmovie),
a1932versiondirectedbyMauriceElvey,aversiondirectedbyJohnBrahm
in1944,and,greatforus,anewversionthatwasreleasedinJanuary,2009.
Itisinterestingtonotethatthe"realidentity"ofTheLodgerchangestosome
extentineachoftheadaptations.OurfocuswillbeonLowndes'original
novel,butit'sinstructivetotakealookatthewaytheplotgetsaltered
becauseithelpsustoseetheimplicationsofthispopularidea!
Becausethisnovelisnarratedin"omniscient"voice(thatis,itisthevoiceof
theauthornotsomeoneinthestory)butthat"omniscient"voiceislimited,
weshouldstartfirstwiththeissueofIntimacyofStyleandTone!

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LairdCregarinTheLodger(1944),inwhichheplaysamysterioustenantwhocouldbe
JacktheRipper.

IntimacyofStyleandTone
Theopeningsceneinanykindofgenrebookiscriticalinsignalingthestyle
andtone.InChandler'swork,thathappenswithafewdeftstrokesMarlowe
himselfappearsandbeginstalking,somethingcallsonhimtorespond(or,in
thecaseof*TheBigSleep*heisalreadyresponding!),andoffwego.Setting
uptheopeningforaPsychologicalThrillerisslightlymorecomplicated,but
italsofollowsagenretradition.Theestablishingshot(touseamovieterm)
inthisgenreisdedicatedtoshowingthereaderthatthisplace,thistime,is
asnormalandinnocentasoneyoumightexperienceanytime.
Oneofthebeautiesofstudying*TheLodger*isthatwecanseethismuch
moreclearlyinatimeandplacethatarenotourown!Withoutbeingunduly
judgmental,IcansaythatclassandclasscluesareveryimportantinBritish
novels.Asenseofnormalcyistelegraphedbyseeingthatclassesarein
theirrightnicheandthesurroundingsareproperforthepeople.Soitiswith
RobertandEllenBunting.
Theyareintheirlittlelodginghousewiththeirsturdyfurniture(boughtat
properauction),everythingiscleanandcozyandinorder.Teatimeisvery
soon.Thingsareprettymuchjustastheyshouldbeexcepttheyareabit
shortofmoney(andthatisnotreallyasurprisefortheirclassstatus).Thus,
eventhoughthenarrativevoiceisomniscient,rightawayweenterintothe
veryprivatedomesticityoftheBuntings,getfamiliarwitheachlacedoily,
andfeeltheintimacyoftheirsittingroom.And,indeed,mostofthebook
takesplaceinjustthefewroomsofthehousenotonlyintimacybutverging
onclaustrophobia,eh?Essentially,whiletheomniscientauthorcould
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conceivably"knoweverything"wedon'tfindoutanythingthattheBuntings
don'tknowuntiltheyknowitoursenseofalimitedandintimatepointof
viewiscarefullycontrolledbyLowndes!

ContinuetoSection"ReadableCharacters"(4b)

AcommonlodginghouseonthestreetwhereJacktheRipperwassupposedtohavelived.
ReturntoLectureSchedule

Crime:
while"detective"fictionkeepsitsdiscoveryprocessrightinthePointofViewofthe
Detective,CrimeFiction,anumbrellacategoryforallfictionthatinvolvescrime,
oftentellsthestoryfromadifferentpointofviewwithperhapsanunusualkindof
narrator(innocentbystander,curiousreporter,wouldbevictim).Someofour
detectivewriters(suchasP.D.James)alsowriteotherkindsofCrimeFiction.Butthe
genrehasawidevarietyofapproaches.
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MarieBellocLowndes,ofcourse,isonewriterwewillbecomefamiliarwithaswe
followhertreatmentofJacktheRipperherfictioncouldbeincludedinasub
categoryof"psychologicalthriller,"aswell.
butyoualsomightliketosample:

EdgarAllenPoe:Poe'sclassictalesofliveincarcerationandmysteryarefullof
criminal(andpsychological)detail!
Alistofthe100bestmysterywriterswillgiveyouanideaoftherollcallofthese
writers!FromTheMysteryWritersofAmerica.

MarjorieCoverleyLuesebrink:writetomewithquestions!

MarjorieCoverleyLuesebrink,MFA,yourInstructor,isaProfessorofEnglishinthe
SchoolofHumanitiesandLanguages,IrvineValleyCollege,Irvine,California.
SeeOnlinewritingatHomePage.
MENUBAR:AboutYourClass//ClassSyllabus//LectureNotes//ReadingList//RecommendedReading//
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