A quick programming note: Rush is caught up in the evacuation for Hurricane Irma, so I will be covering for him on America's Number One radio show tomorrow, Friday, live across America from 12 noon Eastern/9am Pacific. I hope you'll dial me up either on one of over 600 radio stations across the United States, or via the iHeartMedia livestream. And we wish Rush and our EIB colleagues down in Florida all the best as they hunker down and prepare to ride out the storm.
Time for Part Seven of my serialization of The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad. In tonight's episode we meet Chief Inspector Heat of the Special Crimes Division, as he sifts through the remains of the Greenwich Park anarchist in the police morgue. Conrad's is the first literary account of the forensic examination of a suicide bomber:
The Chief Inspector, stooping guardedly over the table, fought down the unpleasant sensation in his throat. The shattering violence of destruction which had made of that body a heap of nameless fragments affected his feelings with a sense of ruthless cruelty, though his reason told him the effect must have been as swift as a flash of lightning. The man, whoever he was, had died instantaneously; and yet it seemed impossible to believe that a human body could have reached that state of disintegration without passing through the pangs of inconceivable agony...
'Well, here he isâ€”all of him I could see. Fair. Slightâ€”slight enough. Look at that foot there. I picked up the legs first, one after another. He was that scattered you didn't know where to begin.'
The constable paused; the least flicker of an innocent self-laudatory smile invested his round face with an infantile expression.
~Thank you for all your comments about our Tales for Our Time. Founding Member Dave Anderson writes from Saskatchewan:
Once Mark started pointing out parallels between fiction of long ago and the present age, one starts seeing them everywhere. Recently read an early (1922) Agatha Christie, featuring Tommy and Tuppence rather than Poirot or Marple. The plot is about a small group of anarchists/revolutionaries, Russian, German, and English, planning to start a revolution in England, modeled after the Russian revolution of five years earlier. At a secret meeting they talk about how to exploit honest but misguided idealists such as union leaders and Labour politiciians:
'(The date for a General Strike) was settled by the principal Labour leaders, and we cannot seem to interfere too much, They must believe it to be entirely their own show.'
The Russian laughed softly, as though amused. 'Yes, yes,' he said, 'That is true. They must have no inkling that we are using them for our own ends. They are honest men - and that is their value to us. It is curious - but you cannot have a revolution without honest men. The instinct of the populace is infallible.... every revolution has had its honest men. They are soon disposed of afterwards.'
That's a rare political insight from Dame Agatha, who tender to steer clear of that sort of thing. A few years back there was a goodish telly adaptation of the Tommy and Tuppence tales with the divine Francesca Annis and dear old James Warwick, of which I was rather fond. But the Beeb remade it hellishly miscast recently, and completely wrecked the thing.