RE: RARA-AVIS: Paid-off private eyes?

From: Lawrence William Coates (
Date: 11 Dec 2008

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    I remember reading S/Z, by Roland Barthes. He talks about a scene in a Balzac novella, in which an old crone emerges from an alley and tells the protagonist "Whatever you do, don't go see Zambinella." Zambinella is the name of an opera singer the protagonist is besotted by.

    Barthes poses the question, what would happen if the protagonist heeds the warning and doesn't go to meet Z. He says it would be a narrative 'scandal.' All of our storytelling and story reading experience tells us that the warning must go unheeded, and the meeting must take place (with unforeseen consequences).

    Seems to me that a detective who takes the money and walks off, leaving the murder unsolved, would also be a narrative scandal. If we knew that the detective could pin the murder on someone, but declines to because he or she is corrupt in a corrupt world, or for some other motivation, that might be a satisfying story. Otherwise, I dunno.

    ________________________________________ From: [] On Behalf Of Juri Nummelin [] Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 9:11 AM To: Subject: RARA-AVIS: Paid-off private eyes?

    Does the collective mind of Rara-Avis recall any novel in which the private eye is paid off, so that he just drops the case and walks off? (And he's still the hero of the book or at least the protagonist.) And the case is never solved?


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