100 Masters of Mystery and Detective Fiction (Magill's by Fiona Kelleghan (ed.)

By Fiona Kelleghan (ed.)

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He later studied at University College, Oxford, where he earned a degree in classics. After World War I started in 1914, he enlisted in the British Army and eventually attained the rank of lieutenant. However, he became a victim of gas warfare on a French battlefield and left the army with permanently damaged health. In 1917 Berkeley married Margaret Fearnley Farrar. That marriaged ended in 1931 and was followed a year later by Berkeley’s marriage to a woman variously identified as Helen Macgregor or Helen Peters.

All Ambler’s novels develop what he has called his primary theme: “Loss of innocence. ” This seems to suggest his view of the plight of humanity in its confusing predicament during the period which has seen the rise and fall of Fascism, the unresolved conflicts of the Cold War, and the increasing difficulty of the individual to retain integrity before the constant growth of the state. The methods which he has employed in the development of this vision, his great narrative skill, his lean and lucid prose, and his determination to anchor the espionage genre firmly within the conventions of modern literary realism, make his achievement the first truly significant body of work in the field of espionage fiction.

Undaunted by their verdict, however, Balzac began writing penny dreadfuls and gothic thrillers under various pseudonyms. Furthermore, he expected to become rich by establishing a publishing company, a printery, and a typefoundry; all three, in turn, went bankrupt and saddled him with insurmountable debts. Not until 1829 did Balzac—using his real name—enjoy a modest success, with the publication of Les Chouans (1829; The Chouans, 1890). Driven as much by a need for money as by his desire to re-create the world, this new Prometheus wrote between 1829 and 1848 some one hundred titles that make up his monu15 16 100 Masters of Mystery and Detective Fiction mental La Comédie humaine (The Comedy of Human Life, 18851893, 1896; best known as The Human Comedy).

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