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  • Posts: 85
  • Joined: May 21, 2019
I've difficulty comprehending the following:

1) Lines 17-19: "an inverted snobbery accuses her of abandoning the time-honored conventions of the detective genre in favor of a highbrow literary style." I interpret "snobbery" as a snobbish comment, but what is an "inverted snobbery" - an upside down snobbery?

2) Lines 34-37: "Her devices to advance the story can be shameless and thin, and it is often impossible to see how her detective arrives at the truth; one is left to conclude that the detective solves crimes through intuition." I can see that an author's devices can be described as "inadequate," but what does it mean to say an author's devices are "shameless"? I thought "shameless" is used to attack someone's character. Does "shameless" just mean bad, or awful here?

 Adam Tyson
PowerScore Staff
  • PowerScore Staff
  • Posts: 3676
  • Joined: Apr 14, 2011
I'm happy to help clear things up for you, blade21cn!

Snobbery is a condescending attitude that others are somehow beneath you, that they are not fancy or refined enough to be at your level. Based on the context in the passage, then, an inverted snobbery is the attitude on the part of devotees to the crime fiction genre that P.D. James is trying to be too fancy and refined, and that she is therefore operating at too high a level to exist in their world.

Shameless, as used here, appears to me to mean that the author thinks James doesn't seem to care all that much about following the conventions of crime fiction. If she did, she would pay more attention to the manner in which the story is advanced and the crime is solved. It's evidence that supports the author's later contention that perhaps James should move past the crime fiction genre altogether, since it seems that's what she wants to do. So it's not necessarily bad or awful, or a negative character trait, but just a certain devil-may-care attitude, one that indicates that the author is unconcerned with meeting the normal expectations.

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