Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Leslie Charteris

In a recent comment, the lovely Bernita compares my convoluted prose to that of Leslie Charteris. How very kind. Because Charteris, you see, was a pro of the old school. A first-class entertainer who is still fondly remembered today.

For proof, visit The Saintly Bible, a web site which celebrates Charteris's most famous fictional character, The Saint. Hero of innumerable books, two major TV series, B movies, and so forth, The Saint was a sort of forerunner of James Bond, a buccaneering type who liked fast cars and ladies but remained, always, a gentleman.

Charteris was born in 1907, the son of a wealthy Chinese surgeon and an English mother. He became, in due course, an American citizen. And he had -- I speak from much-faded boyhood memory -- a nice way with words. Also he had a sense of humour. How well the books would stand up to being read today I don't know.

While we're at it, Edgar Wallace was another old-time thriller writer who was also a master of prose.


Bernita said...

Doubtful if they would, they contain many vintage elements that are not PC. Someone's activities are compared to a "Red Indian" for example.

In the later novels,while the plots become less crude and his characters less caricatures, his style becomes smooth, homogenized, bland.
Gone are the charming extravagances of visual imagery, the deliberate elegant variations, the leisurely amused and invitational omniscient interjections.
The bishop-and-actress jokes.
The fun.
The Saint becomes a cliche of himself.
I feel Charteris eventually lost his voice.

Lyons Library Staff said...

As an someone who discovered The Saint novels at about age 18 or so, I must state that I have truly enjoyed them over the years. While owning several of them, I recently learned just how prolific an author Charteris was. Perhaps the books are not PC today but the wonderful world of the Saint is still as fascinating today as it was when I first discovered them more than 25 years ago.