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Extention English Essay

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Kobemelobron
Words 1817
Pages 8
The durability of a genre is conditional on the reciprocity between tradition and innovation.
Genres and texts exist in a mutually-influential relationship. Though it is genres that serve to categorise and classify texts, it is the texts themselves that characterise and modify their genre. Crime fiction can be recognised as texts that encircle criminal activity and the motives surrounding it. In order to accommodate contemporary audiences, composers can playfully rework and innovate the conventions of crime fiction. This subversion can be achieved by encompassing relevant contextual issues. However, crime fiction texts must still incorporate traditional elements to preserve their core appeal. This delicate balancing act between tradition and innovation is shown through P.D. James’ novel The Skull Beneath the Skin (1982) and Tom Stoppard’s play The Real Inspector Hound (1968) when viewed alongside Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) and Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely (1940). Ultimately though, it is the ability of genre to evolve through subversion whilst retaining its inherent traditional features that ensures its durability.
The ever-changing nature of society and context results in the innovation of genre. In The Skull Beneath the Skin, P.D. James subverts Poe’s original detective prototype, presented in the character of Cordelia Gray. Traditional detectives were equipped with exceptional intellect, and often portrayed as powerful, almost surreal figures. Conversely, James’ innovative detective is expressed as vulnerable and inexperienced: “…her control broke. She gave a gasp and felt the hot tears coursing down her face.” In doing this, James comments on the use of a female detective in crime fiction, and specifies her position in the title of The Skull’s predecessor, “An Unsuitable Job for A Woman.” Contextually, James’ position...

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