This last fortnight of term at school has been so hectic. As H&S officer and doing all our trips admin, it’s required much getting things organised at the last minute, changing risk assessments daily as new circumstances arise, getting answers to all kinds of queries, as well as all the lab tidying and sorting out with my lab technician hat on. But school is now out. Hurrah! I will be doing occasional admin shifts over the summer to cover holidays, but that will be quiet without the boys there.
What with school, and then the tennis and the football lately, there’s not been a lot of time for anything else, and blogging has taken second place, mostly to Wimbledon, which I’ve particularly enjoyed this year – when they actually play some tennis that is. All the choosing from four balls for each serve, too many bounces before serving and then getting ball tosses wrong is infuriating! That said, the young Canadian (who does all of the aforementioned things but can be forgiven for them, and beating Andy Murray) is ‘Shapovalovely’ and I hope we see more of him in the future. As a consequence of watching all this sport, my film and TV watchlist for July will be short come the end of the month.
However I have been reading, so plenty of reviews to come now I have a bit more time. So far I’ve read 7/20 Books of Summer – so as usual, I’m behind, but there’s seven weeks still to go. My pile of books sent by publishers to review is teetering though but I will try to alternate between them and my bedside TBR bookcase. I’ll admit, I’ve loved that the publishers’ schedules have spilled over to give strong summer lists, not saving them all for the autumn super Saturdays.
I will leave you with some bookish thoughts however…
The Murders on the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe
This was our book group choice for this month. Poe wrote three short stories involving Detective Auguste Dupin between 1841-4, of which the first is the most celebrated. We all read from different collections – mine (right) brought the three Dupin stories together in one volume. I left it a bit late to read all three, so only managed the first – which is the real first modern detective story in Western literature. By comparison, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins from 1868 is the first great detective novel, and Sherlock Holmes didn’t appear on the scene until 1887.
An unnamed narrator tells us the story of the gory double murder of a woman and her daughter in a house on the Rue Morgue in Paris. Witnesses heard voices, but none could agree on the language spoken by one of them. The room was locked, so how did the murderer get in and out? The narrator is a friend of Dupin’s, they share rooms, and Dupin offers his assistance to the Chief of Police. However, before we get to the meat of the case, the narrator gives us a lengthy discussion of analytical reasoning – what Poe called ‘ratiocination’.
…it is in matters beyond the limits of mere rule that the skill of the analyst is evinced. He makes, in silence, a host of observations and inferences. So perhaps, do his companions; and the difference in the extent of information obtained; lies not so much in the validity of the inference as in the quality of the observation. The necessary knowledge of what to observe.
We all appreciated the story, and would probably read more of Poe’s work (incidentally, see my review of a super pop-up book version of The Raven here). What struck us was how much Conan Doyle borrowed from Poe to create Sherlock Holmes, down to the style of being narrated by the detective’s friend – only the Paris setting is missing!