Books: Crisis in Mysteries

Historian-Educator Jacques Barzun can be a mean critter when aroused, as he has been of late by contemporary prose (a "mixture of jargon, cant, vogue words, and loose syntax"). Higher Learning (he could find only "an immense amount of Lower Learning" in the U.S.), and the Ph.D. racket (TIME, Nov. 25, 1957). In American Scholar Barzun castigates his latest victim: detective stories, which, he says, have fallen on evil days, turning increasingly into "novels of haze and daze."

The first crime of the detective stories is that they can no longer hold even such...

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