Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles in German and Dutch Translation

The Remarkable Case of the Six Poirots


Agatha Christie is one of the most popular and most translated authors of all time. Yet there is little academic work on her writing. This book sets out to rectify this.
No matter where in the world you are, Hercule Poirot is a name that conjures up certain associations. The detailed analysis of the original text, three German and two Dutch translations of The Mysterious Affair at Styles however shows that his depiction differs immensely between the individual texts. In the course of this book, reasons for these differences are found via the analysis of the shifts of status of Agatha Christie as an author, of detective fiction and of translations from English in Germany and the Netherlands. During this exploration the discovery will be made that, when translated, escapist literature such as Christie’s detective fiction actually becomes a highly political affair.
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Table of contents



Part A. Order and Method: Theoretical and Historical Framework

1. Little Grey Cells: Translation Theory
1.1. Descriptive Translation Studies and the Manipulation School
1.2. Polysystem Theory
1.3. Equivalence, Translation Norms, Laws and Universals
1.3.1. Equivalence and Translation Norms
1.3.2. Laws and Universals
1.4. Corpus Linguistics and Translation
1.5. Methodology

2. Bodies in the Library: Histories of Detective Fiction
2.1. Detective Fiction in Britain – the ‘Golden Age’
2.2. Detective Fiction in Germany
2.2.1. The ‘Golden Age’ and Before
2.2.2. 1933-1945
2.2.3. The Postwar Period
2.2.4. Other Media
2.3. Detective Fiction in the Netherlands
2.3.1. 1890-1940
2.3.2. The Postwar Period
2.3.3. Other Media
2.4. Conclusion

3. Postern of Fate: Translation History of Agatha Christie’s Works
3.1. Publication in Britain
3.2. Publication in Germany
3.3. Publication in the Netherlands

4. Murder is Easy: Detective Story Structures
4.1. ‘Golden Age’ Detective Story Structures
4.2. Structures in Agatha Christie’s Detective Fiction
4.3. Detective Story Structures to be Examined in this Study

Part B. The Labours of Hercules: Translation Analysis

5. Appointment with Death: Introduction to the Texts
5.1. Lambert and van Gorp’s Model
5.2. A.d.Z.’s De geheimzinnige zaak van Styles (1927)
5.3. A. van Iddekinge-van Thiel’s De zaak Styles (1966)
5.4. Anna Drawe’s Das geheimnisvolle Verbrechen in Styles (1929)
5.5. Dorothea Gotfurt’s Das fehlende Glied in der Kette (1959)
5.6. Nina Schindler’s Das fehlende Glied in der Kette (1999)
5.7. Conclusion
5.8. Plot Summary

6. They Do it with Mirrors: Macrostructural Analysis
6.1. Setting
6.1.1. Geographical Setting
6.1.2. Historical Setting
6.2. Characters
6.2.1. The Upper Class
6.2.2. The Culprits
6.2.3. The Outcasts
6.2.4. The Detectives Hastings Poirot
6.3. Plot
6.3.1. Poirot and Hastings: the Holmes-Watson Principle
6.3.2. Plot Development: Characters and their Function
6.3.3. Plot Development: Clues and Deductions, Questions and
6.3.4. Guidance and Evidence: Illustrations and Other Inserts
6.4. Conclusion

7. The Mirror Crack’d: Microstructural Analysis
7.1. Proverbs, Proverbial Expressions and Allusions
7.1.1. Similes
7.1.2. Allusions to Literature and History
7.1.3. Others
7.1.4. Overview and Conclusion
7.2. Language Levels
7.2.1. Dialect and Sociolect
7.2.2. Native and Foreign Lexis Grammar Syntax and Rhetorical Figures Conclusion
7.3. Conclusion

Part C. Cards on the Table: Synthesis

8. Spider’s Web: Combinations and Deductions
8.1. Translating the Genre – Defining the Genre
8.2. Fields and Polysystems – Translations in their Context
8.3. Norms, Laws and Findings
8.4. Translation and Culture – Translating Cultures
8.5. Conclusion

A Chronology of German Translations
B Chronology of Dutch Translations
C German Translations
D Dutch Translations
E Important Facts and Clues
F Questions and Answers
G Proverbs, Proverbial Expressions and Allusions




The prospective readers of this book are readers interested in: detective fiction, the history and reception of detective fiction in Germany and/or the Netherlands, (the translation and publication history of) Agatha Christie’s works, translation theory (Descriptive Translation Studies and the Göttingen approach), a critical take on the concept of translation universals, the application of corpus linguistic tools.