The Dotty "Queen of Crime"
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The Dotty "Queen of Crime"

From a New Yorker essay on crime writer Agatha Christie by Joan Acocella (Aug. 16 & 23, 2010):

“Racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia turn up constantly in Christie’s books. In one, a hostess serves a special dessert called Nigger in His Shirt (chocolate pudding covered with whipped cream). We also get dagos, wogs, and Eye-ties. Most frequently commented on, however, are the Jews. In an early novel, ‘The Secret of Chimneys’ (1925), Herman Isaacstein, who is, of course, a financier with a big nose, is invited to a political meeting at a country estate. When the host, Lord Caterham, is told who Isaacstein is, he says, ‘Curious names these people have.’ Caterham starts calling him Nosystein. The others take this up and shorten it to Nosy….

“After the Second World War, some readers, especially Americans, were not amused by her characters’ views on ethnic differences. Christie’s publishers received letters, including one from the Anti-Defamation League. Her agent … didn’t forward them to her. He simply gave Dodd, Mead, her American publishers, permission to delete any politically offensive references to Jews or Catholics. She apparently didn’t notice the changes.”

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