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Eric Ambler

Author: Ronald J Ambrosetti
Publisher: New York : Twayne Publishers ; Toronto : Maxwell Macmillan Canada ; New York : Maxwell Macmillan International, ©1994.
Series: Twayne's English authors series, TEAS 507.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Born in London in 1909, Ambler had by the age of thirty produced a group of novels that would forever change the fundamental nature of the suspense thriller. In such works as Dark Frontier (1936), Background to Danger (1937), Epitaph for a Spy (1938), and A Coffin for Dimitrios (1939), Ambler eschewed the cloak-and-dagger formula of what he called "the old secret service thrillers" for a new kind of spy story that
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Genre/Form: Criticism, interpretation, etc
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Ambrosetti, Ronald J.
Eric Ambler.
New York : Twayne Publishers ; Toronto : Maxwell Macmillan Canada ; New York : Maxwell Macmillan International, ©1994
(OCoLC)680275099
Named Person: Eric Ambler; Eric Ambler; Eric Ambler; Eric Ambler
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Ronald J Ambrosetti
ISBN: 0805783695 9780805783698
OCLC Number: 29911205
Description: xvii, 166 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm.
Contents: Ch. 1. "The Weird Multiplier": From Detective to Spy --
Ch. 2. A Spy in the House of Ratiocination --
Ch. 3. Dark Crossings: Twilights of the Gods and the Psyche --
Ch. 4. The Eternal Return: Dionysus as Dimitrios --
Ch. 5. Picking Up the Pieces: From the Phony War to the Cold War --
Ch. 6. Facing East: The Orientation of Eric Ambler --
Ch. 7. Ambler Redux: Fruition and Finale.
Series Title: Twayne's English authors series, TEAS 507.
Responsibility: Ronald J. Ambrosetti.

Abstract:

Born in London in 1909, Ambler had by the age of thirty produced a group of novels that would forever change the fundamental nature of the suspense thriller. In such works as Dark Frontier (1936), Background to Danger (1937), Epitaph for a Spy (1938), and A Coffin for Dimitrios (1939), Ambler eschewed the cloak-and-dagger formula of what he called "the old secret service thrillers" for a new kind of spy story that concerned itself with the psychological, social, philosophical, and political issues of the modern age. He sought to "intellectualize' the older, anemic spy story," Ambrosetti writes, and drew from his intensive reading of Friedrich Nietzsche, C.G. Jung. Oswald Spengler, and other modernist thinkers and writers to do so.

Current criticism generally takes the view that Ambler's best work is in these early, path-breaking novels. Ambrosetti contests this position, finding evidence of Ambler's maturation as a writer in terms of character development, social and political verisimilitude, and cognizance of moral subtlety. Gone from the novels of the 1950s onward are the one-dimensional ideologues of the collectivist 1930s; in their place are ambivalent, alienated characters, morally confused and psychologically homeless.

In such novels as State of Siege (1956), Passage of Arms (1959), and The Light of Day (1962), Ambler considered the West's post-World War II view of the East - politically and psychologically - as the mysterious, untrustworthy "other." In the five books he devoted to this topic, Ambler took up the theme of the Western traveler on a journey of self-discovery and exploration; as one book followed the next into publication, Ambler's protagonists evolved from a stance of fearful and condescending fascination to one of at least partial understanding and involvement.

Ambler's interest in the evolving personality, the ability to adapt, is apparent throughout his work. His protagonists are often fairly average, sometimes troubled men whose accidental involvement in a sinister maze of international spying and intrigue transforms them. In such later novels as A Kind of Anger (1964) and The Intercom Conspiracy (1969), Ambler perfected what Ambrosetti calls the concept of "trickster as hero." The trickster embodies Ambler's belief that in the twentieth century survival - psychic and otherwise - depends on the capacity to change in response to a treacherously shifting environment without losing sight of the forces at work - both good and malevolent - within one's own consciousness. Not unlike one of his spy-protagonists, Ambrosetti argues, Ambler as author has deftly managed the trick of literary transformation throughout his long career.

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