Saturday October 21, 2017
Home India Agatha Christ...

Agatha Christie cited native Indian plants as poison sources in her books

1
63

Kolkata: Agatha Christie Queen of Crime not only used the quintessential Victorian-era poisons but also the examples of native Indian plants as sources for her poisons in her deadly murder-plots to kill off characters, British chemist and author Kathryn Harkup said.

In “A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie”, Harkup sheds light on how the author gained the know-how on the lethal compounds while working as a dispenser in Britain and weaved them into her brilliant novels.

“The most underrated aspect of Christie, in my opinion, is how many different poisons she used. There is an assumption that she just used arsenic, but she used over 30 different compounds to kill her characters,” Harkup told in an email interaction while in India to attend literary fests in Kolkata and New Delhi.

Dame Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time, outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. She has to her credit over 80 novels and short stories. Her 125th birthday was commemorated worldwide on September 15, 2015.

Christie’s considerable knowledge of chemistry and the nitty-gritties of poisons was amassed during her professional years in a pharmacy during both World Wars.

“I have looked into the Ayurveda system of medicine during my research, as Christie used examples of native Indian plants as sources for her poisons.

“Christie would have used atropine, strychnine, and aconitine in the preparations she made as an apothecaries assistant. All of these compounds can be obtained from plants that are native to India. I looked at the example of the use of these compounds in the Ayurveda system, particularly atropine,” Harkup, whose visit was sponsored by the British Council, revealed.

For example, in “4:50 from Paddington”, aconitine (monkshood/aconitum napellus) is the central agent, strychnine (strychnos nux vomica) in “The Mysterious Affair at Styles” and atropine (datura) in “The Cretan Bull” or “Caribbean Mystery”, said Harkup.

While delving deep into the scientific basis of the use of poisons by Christie, Harkup was amazed by the phenomenal effort the author had put into clear her apothecaries exams.

“The most interesting thing I learned was how much studying she had done for her apothecaries exams. She had to learn theoretical and practical chemistry as well as about pharmacy and how to make up prescriptions. She even practiced the Marsh Test (the test for arsenic) in preparation for her exams which surprised me.”

In fact, the author’s most treasured review was from The Pharmaceutical Journal where they praised her book “The Mysterious Affair at Styles” for its scientific accuracy, even though women were not seen as great leaders in science in Christie’s day, according to Harkup.

She singles out thallium (featured in “The Pale Horse”) and eserine (featured in “Curtain”) as major evidence of Christie’s breadth of knowledge.

“Thallium, which was so little known about at the time she was writing that doctors consulted her novel for accurate descriptions of poisoning symptoms. Eserine was a drug I had never heard of until I read Christie. Eserine has a fascinating history from its discovery in West Africa to its use in medicine today,” Harkup explained.

Respected for her knowledge and accuracy, Christie was also ahead of her time in some instances.

“She used ricin to kill three people in the short story “The House of Lurking Death”. Christie was writing almost 50 years before anyone had been murdered using this poison (as far as we know). Unfortunately, because there were no other cases that she could draw on, some of the science is not very accurate.

“Anyone trying to mimic Christie would not be a very successful murderer if they used the method in this story,” Harkup pointed out.

Published by Bloomsbury, “A is for Arsenic” also looks at why certain chemicals kill, how they interact with the body, and the feasibility of obtaining, administering, and detecting these poisons, both when Christie was writing and today.

“I hope the book can be seen as not just a science book but also about history and social aspects of science as well as Agatha Christie and her work,” added Harkup whose next book is on the science behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.(IANS)(image:electricliterature)

Next Story

Checkout Ten Must-Read Books For Women

0
12
Must reads for a woman.
Must reads for a woman. Pixabay

Nothing in this world can give you the feeling which books do. Some stories, some word just touch your heart and end up giving you the greatest lessons of life. Books can be inspiring at times, and help you make the toughest decisions of life. Below are ten must-read books for women:

  1. A Thousand Splendid Suns

The book, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini, who has also authored ‘Kite Runner’ revolves around the lives of two women, Mariam and Laila. The beautiful friendship of these two and the things they go through is mesmerizing. The book’s subtlety puts it under the category of must-read books for women.

2. Millennium Series by Stieg Larsson

The Millennium series has three books- “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “The Girl who kicked the Hornet’s Nest” and “The Girl who Played with Fire”. The lead character of the series, Lisabeth Salander, is a confident and bold woman who never follows the old norms of the society and leads her life differently. Her rebellious nature can inspire the girls out there to stand for themselves.

3.  Pride And Prejudice

Must-Reads for women
Pride and Prejudice. Wikimedia.

The classic by Jane Austen teaches you to distinguish between the essential and the superficial. It makes you come across a way of looking at women, which is not judgmental. It teaches you to stand up for righteousness. It is definitely ones of the must-read books for women.

4. The Book Thief

Th novel, “The Book Thief” by the Australian author Markus Zusak gives out the inspiring message that no matter what the situation is, women can come out of it strongly on their own.

5. How To Be A Bawse

The Book, “How to be a Bawse”, by the Canadian YouTuber Lily Singh is a beautiful guide on tackling tough situations in life, supported by the examples of real-life situations. Lily’s classy and sassy video style has already been loved by a lot of women out there.

6. The Hunger Games Trilogy

Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games Trilogy is one of the must-read books for women out there as the book’s lead character Katniss, makes you feel proud of being a girl. Her character motivates you to be your own hero.

7. Daughter By Court Order

“Daughter By Court Order”, by Ratna revolves around the story of a woman who has been disowned by her own family. The woman is fighting against money, power, deceit, and for her right to be recognized as a daughter. She has to handle everything on her own.

8. To Kill A Mocking Bird

The book is written by Harper Lee and is an all-time classic. The book revolves around a six-year-old protagonist who is a feminist and refuses to accept the societal norms and always challenges them.

9. The Diary Of A Young Girl

Must-Read Books For Women
The Diary Of A Young Girl. Wikimedia.

The novel by Anne Frank is set during the time of Nazi invading Netherlands. Anne Frank shares her feelings with her diary while she was in hiding for two years. The emotions and struggles make it one of the must-read books for women.

10. The Palace of Illusions

The book Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni shows the epic Mahabharata, through Draupadi’s eyes. Her problems and shortcomings are shown, along with the fact that how ego can lead to a battle.

by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. She can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya

Next Story

Meet ‘Power Talking Books’ ! New Bangla Audiobook App Makes it Easier to Go Through Bengali Literature

The app has a free section consisting of single short stories and a subscription section (at Rs 200 annually) consisting of novels and short story collections

0
40
2017 man booker prize
This year's winner, George Saunders, is an acclaimed short story writer but this is his first novel which fetched him the prize. (Representative image) Wikimedia
  • Power Talking Books is the “first and leading free Bangla audiobook app in India”, claim its developers
  • The app provides access to a treasure-trove of rich Bengali literature
  • The app has a free section consisting of single short stories and a subscription section consisting of novels and short story collections

New Delhi, August 30, 2017: Want to soak in the gems of Bengali literature, but don’t have the time to read?

Meet Power Talking Books which, its developers claim, is the “first and leading free Bangla audiobook app in India”.

Making reading easier on the go, the app provides access to a treasure-trove of rich Bengali literature: works of eminent Bengali authors like Sunil Gangopadhyay, Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Indranil Sanyal and Suchitra Bhattacharya, among others.

One can easily just snap on a pair of headphones or play it out loud and surrender to enriching content belonging to mystery, novel, romance, social fiction, short story, surreal, suspense horror, motivational and science fiction genres.

“There is also a large number of people who cannot read Bengali but can talk and understand. The app will also be a boon for the visually challenged,” said Power Publishers founder Pinaki Ghosh while introducing the app here on Tuesday.

The app has a free section consisting of single short stories and a subscription section (at Rs 200 annually) consisting of novels and short story collections. (IANS)


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt. 

 

Next Story

Munshi Premchand: An Acclaimed Hindi Fiction Writer and his many Achievements

10 unknown facts about literary genius Munshi Premchand

0
48
Munshi Premchand's Statue in Varanasi
Munshi Premchand's Statue in Varanasi. Wikimedia
  • Premchand’s work was based on social evils of society like exploitation, greed, submission, poverty and caste system among others.
  • Premchand stressed on the fact that a writer’s natural gifts can be enhanced with education and curiosity about the world around him.
  • His noteworthy works are Godan, Seva Sadan, Nirmala, Gaban, Karmabhoomi, and Pratigya.

August 3, 2017: Premchand, a Realist Hindi-Urdu writer once said, “I write for only one sake: To present a human truth, or to show a new angle of looking at common things.” His work was based on social evils of society like exploitation, greed, submission, poverty and caste system among others.  He was born with the name Dhanpat Rai on 31 July 1880 in Lamhi, a village near Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

“Ek Betuke Aadmi Ki Afrah Raatein” : A Film inspired by Indian Writer Munshi Premchand and Russian Novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Works

His stories had a moralistic overtone to it and might not appeal to the modern readers but teach about goodness and to follow the right path.  Literature for him was simply ‘the criticism of life’. He was of the belief that language is a means and not an end, and a writer is born, not made.

Premchand stressed on the fact that a writer’s natural gifts can be enhanced with education and curiosity about the world around him. He said, “We will have to raise the standard of our literature so that it can serve the society more usefully… our literature will discuss and assess every aspect of life and we will no longer be satisfied with eating the leftovers of other languages and pieces of literature. We will ourselves increase the capital of our literature.”

His noteworthy works include Godan, Seva Sadan, Nirmala, Gaban, Karmabhoomi and Pratigya among others. Here are some unknown facts about the great author:

  • Premchand began writing under the pen name Nawab Rai (his uncle nicknamed him Nawab) and later shifted to the name Premchand. He was later known as Munshi Premchand, the prefix Munshi was given as the honorary title to him by his readers.
  • He got married at a very young age of 15 to Shivarani Devi when he was a class 9 student.
  • Premchand started his career as a sales boy in a book shop so that he could read more and more books. Then he became a home tutor and after that, he joined government school as an assistant teacher, on a monthly salary of 20 rupees.
  • He resigned from the school, became a staunch supporter of Mahatma Gandhi and started a press in Varanasi known as Saraswati Press.
  • His works include 14 novels, 300 short stories, several essays and translated a number of foreign literary works into Hindi.
  • His first collection of short stories, Soz-e Watan (The Dirge of the Nation), written in 1908 was deemed controversial, got banned by the imperial government and on top of it, all the copies of the book were burnt. 
  • Premchand was elected as the first president of the All-India Progressive Writers’ Association (PWA) and also wrote a non-fiction piece for them. His speech, called Sahitya ka Uddeshya (The Aim of Literature), was heard by an attentive audience comprising both young and established writers from across the country. It also talked about what concerns or should concern, all writers irrespective of language. 
  • There have been many movies made inspired by his works like Heera Moti -based on a short story Do Bailon ki Kahani, Oka Ori Kath (South Indian film)- based on Kafan and  Shatranj ke Khiladi by Satyajit Ray is based on the novel of the same name. His other novels like Godan and Gaban have been turned into movies too.

  • Gulzar turned Munshi Premchand’s Godan into a 26-episode serial for Doordarshan called Tehreer. 
  • Premchand died from a gastric ulcer on 8 October 1936. At that time he was composing the novel Mangalasutra, but could not complete it.  His one son, Amit Rai, became a noted Hindi writer, and the other, Sripath Rai, a talented painter.

–by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.
Click here- www.newsgram.com/donate