14. Juli 2010

The Mysterious Mr Quin and other Tales

I’ve bought them at a church sale, an Euro each. Penguin Books’ “The little Sister” by Raymond Chandler and “The Mysterious Mr Quin” by Agatha Christie, “complete & unabridged” for 2'6 (but 2'6 is another story).

“Mr Quin” is a series of twelve short criminal stories, full of humour and mystique. In the last story, “Harlequin’s Lane”, Agatha Christie quotes – whom?

Let us read three paragraphs:

‘A rubbish-heap,’ exclaimed Mr Satterthwaite, and breathed deeply and indignantly.
   ‘Sometimes there are very wonderful things on a rubbish-heap,’ said Mr Quin.
   ‘I know, I know,’ cried Mr Satterthwaite, and quoted with just a trace of self-conciousness: ‘“Bring me the two most beautiful things in the city, said God.” You know how it goes, eh?’
   Mr Quin nodded.

Now: I didn’t. I had to consult Wikipedia and the Internet. The quote is slightly unprecise, so it was’t easy as usual, when you look for a passage in the net. “Bring me the two most precious things,” God says in Oscar Wilde’s famous short story “The Happy Prince”, written in 1888 for his two sons and known to many English and American families. The book is called “The Happy Prince and other Tales”, the story is a bit too sweet for today’s taste. But then it has the charme of phantasy, so much en-vogue these days.

You find The Happy Prince at www.online-literature.com/poe/177/, more about it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Happy_Prince#The_Happy_Prince, and you can hear the story told by Orson Welles and Bing Crosby on a 1946 Decca recording at www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIPaS10r-T0 (part 1, 6:30, part two is www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JApl4-mgZ0, 6:23); please wait 20" for the sound to start. Germans can read the story translated by Alice Seiffert at http://gutenberg.spiegel.de/?id=5&xid=3121&kapitel=2&cHash=5ea5ea3c07prinz#gb_found.

Agatha Christie’s Harlequin’s Lane is described in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mysterious_Mr._Quin#Harlequin.27s_Lane. You can (barely) read the story (disturbed by advertizing) at http://members.multimania.co.uk/Agaweb/Miscellaneous/tmmq012.html. But buy the book, used, via the Internet, if not at a church sale.

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