Category Archives: paratext

Eye candy #3

Moord in het Nudistenkamp

Moord in het Nudistenkamp (Eng: Murder at the Nudist Camp)

Honey West is a fictional character created by Gloria and Forest Fickling under the pseudonym “G.G. Fickling” and appearing in numerous mystery novels by the duo.

The character is notable as being one of the first female private detectives in popular fiction. She first appeared in the 1957 book This Girl for Hire and would appear in 10 novels before being retired in 1971. The character was also the basis for the short-lived TV series Honey West in the 1960s.

More Honey West here, from a fine collection of Dutch translations of detective novels. Probably the paratext (in this case the cover illustration) is better than the text itself.

Previously on Eye Candy.

Momus on paratextual pleasures


“As a student of literature, something you find yourself doing a lot is reading books about books — narratives which tear through the plot outlines, critical receptions and choicest quotes of other books, giving you some kind of rapid gist or taste of hundreds of titles you’ll probably never read. What I’ve always liked about these books-about-books.”

He mentions

He also mentions the fact that the paratext is often better than the text itself

“In a weird, inverted way, some of the books which must be most hellish to read in real life, in real time, turn out, in these metabook accounts, to be the most entertaining to read about” (see paratext).

Example of the latter:

This post reminds me of the following quote of O. Wilde:

“I never read a book I must review, it prejudices you so.” —Oscar Wilde

and my own recent research in thematic literary criticism and my earlier praise of secondary literature.

Via the comments to Momus’s post we come to reviews of books we’ve never read. Stanislaw Lem wrote a few sets of introductions to and reviews of fictional books here and Borges has An Examination of the Work of Herbert Quain

To top it off there is ‘How to Talk of Books We Haven’t Read?‘ by Pierre Bayard.

Inspired by The dream life of metabooks