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The Pastiche Problem

CassandraMorrisonCassandraMorrison Minnesota, United States Investigator
edited June 2014 in Hercule Poirot

They are never really as good as the original, now are they? No matter how thoroughly the writer tries to insert him or herself into the mind of the original author in order to give us  NEW adventures they are going to miss the mark to a greater or less extent. Sherlock Holmes has probably been the one fictional character about whom the most pastiches have been written and while many have been enjoyable on their own merits even the most loyal fan has to admit that they aren't "quite quite."

Not even THE EXPLOITS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES authored by John Dickson Carr and Adrian Conan Doyle satisfies on all levels. And yet here we have the master of the "Locked Room Mystery" and the original author's own SON collaborating on the effort.

So here's the problem: We WANT more adventures of Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple and Tommy and Tuppence and. perhaps especially Harley Quin, but Dame Agatha is gone and although some very talented writers have tried to produce new adventures for us they can never really achieve the task. And the reason is rather obvious...they didn't CREATE these characters. They didn't breathe life into them originally. Which means they are having try and use borrowed fire to achieve this. And they don't really have the ability to wield another's creative flame. 


  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom ✭✭✭✭✭
    James Anderson 's books are EXCLLENT, his detective who I assume is supposdedto be a spoof of Battle and the Family in the books who are I assume supposed to be Spoos of Bundle and Lord Caterham are wonderful, I suppose it depends on your Opinion, there DEFINITELY SHOULD NOT be another Hercule Poirot book as Agatha Christie killed him off and ONLY SHE has the right to write more, Simon Brett's Melita Pargetter is a lovely replacement for Miss Marple as is Betty Rowland's Mel Craig and Rebecca Tope's female Detectives but I do agree if someone wrote another Tommy and Tuppence book or another Miss Marple book or did the same with Bundle Brent, Battle, or Lady Derwent and Bobby Jones Book bor another book with most of the Characters I would be very pleased just NOT POIROT!
  • AnubisAnubis Ontario, Canada ✭✭✭
    I do so agree with both of you, especially that there should be no more HP stories, much as I would like it if there were. But better half a loaf than no bread, so I will try the books of James Anderson and Simon Brett. Now that the Conan Doyle estate no longer holds copyright on the Sherlock Holmes character, there are any number of folks who are willing to "ride on his coat-tails", but never with the same success. I respect and encourage people who write their own tribute stories to an author, as they do in this chat site. That's a fun thing. But when it comes to published novels, I prefer a writer who develops his or her own detective rather than that of another author. I'm glad the Christie estate still holds copyright over her characters, so few pastiches can be done. As a side note, there is a novel called The Act of Roger Murgatroyd by Gilbert Adair — you can likely guess which well-known AC novel inspired it. You will likely either hate it or find it amusing.
  • GKCfanGKCfan Wisconsin, United States mod
    As a matter of fact, the Conan Doyle estate still holds copyright over the last collection of Holmes stories because it was printed after 1923.  There's a very interesting legal battle.  People have the right to use Sherlock Holmes the character now, BUT they cannot use any information or character traits originating in later tales.  That's why the TV shows SHERLOCK and ELEMENTARY have taken out licenses for the characters.  The Conan Doyle estate has just filed a lawsuit against the producers of the upcoming movie MR. HOLMES, starring Sir Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes, because it contains copyrighted details about the character.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom ✭✭✭✭✭
    How does Radio 4 get away with Stories based on bits of the stories were they written by Conan Doyle and I heard a Radio 4 Series where the Characters are descendants of Holmes and Watson. how do they get that, I think Jeremy Nicholas plays Watson.
  • GKCfanGKCfan Wisconsin, United States mod
    I don't know how Radio 4 has arranged it– maybe they took out a license, or maybe they're keeping to the facts and character details from the public domain works.
  • I've lately read "The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes" and actually found them quite satisfying - the one thing you have to give up is to expect them to be exactly like the originals, but they are quite good in themselves. Another good continuation is Jill Paton Walsh's Peter and Harriet Wimsey books. Again, not a perfect match, but good in themselves. I suppose it depends on the author. And sometimes we feel that it is desecration to use a great author's characters! The mystery novel "Naked once more" by Elizabeth Peters (a.k.a. Barbara Michaels) deals specifically with that issue: the heroine/librarian/writer/amateur detective is offered a chance to write a sequel to a bestseller whose author disappeared 7 years ago and is presumed dead, and encounters a storm of opposition from fervent fans of the original book, would-be writers of the sequel as well as... well, I won't add spoilers, but I strongly recommend the book!
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