Hercule poirot, is by some distance, the most enduring literary character in my life. I got introduced to him when I was a teenager, and he has the ability to brighten up a day, no matter if I am stressed with college assignments, work pressures, or motherhood pressures. People wonder how I can reread murder mysteries when I already know who has done it. I say it is never about the story, but the pleasure of the language and the characters.
There has been enough written about this ‘little man with an egg shaped head’, ‘the mountebank’, even the ‘ridiculous man’. I have no desire to add to the Poirot analysis literature. For those of you who have not had enough of him through the books, there is an excellent analysis by Anne Hart, called The Life and Times of Hercule Poirot.
But what attracts me most about Poirot is the delightful way Christie frames English life, from the point of view of a foreigner. Poirot is the quintessentially the other, and even the way English people criticize him show more about them, than about him.
I think my fascination for England is really a lot about him. I grew up reading Enid Blyton and later Jane Austen, and there was always a romance associated with England, but it was really Agatha Christie, or more specifically Poirot, along with P G Wodehouse who made England such a fascinating place for me, that I long to visit it. More recently, Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island further added to the fascination.
In fact it is this same fascination for England which made me such a passionate viewer of the BBC series on Hercule Poirot. No doubt David Suchet makes the most beleivable Poirot, he is understadedly funny (some of the other representations, including the famous Orient Express movie make Poirot into a complete joker). But what really fascinates me is the visuals of the country.
I dont know if I will ever visit England, and even if I do, surely the country of Poirot and Wodehouse does not exist. But that does not matter, it will remain my ideal travel destination.