On the subject of the pen Julia became very indignant. She had never heard of such a thing - or at any rate she had never read of such a thing - or at any rate not in any piece of respectable crime fiction published since the beginning of the Second World War. A physical object, forsooth, with the initials of a suspect engraved on it - why, it was worse than a fingerprint. If we must have a clue of a physical nature - and in Julia's experience the best authors nowadays wholly eschewed such vulgarities - then let it at least be one invisible to the naked eye and identifiable only by the most sophisticated techniques of modern pathology. If the progress of the past half-century was to count for nothing then one might as well go back, said Julia scathingly, to murders committed by means of arsenic or for motives of matrimonial jealousy.
"I do not doubt," I said, "that in a crime novel having any pretensions to modernity, the pen would be quite inadmissable. As a here historian, however, there is nothing I can do about it. Nature, as we know, does imitate Art, but I fear that she all too often falls short of the highest standards. Were you to turn your attention from the fictional crimes to those reported in newspapers, you would find that people are still leaving fingerprints and murdering unfaithful spouses for all the world as if they were living in the 1920s. In the more backward parts of the country they may even still be poisoning one another with arsenic. We cannot ignore the pen for the sake of literary fashion."
from The Shortest Way to Hades, by Sarah Caudwell
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