English Department

Safaa K. Merzah (Asst. Lect.) publishes a book in the German publishing house LAMBERT

Feb 15th, 2022


Safaa K. Merzah's (Asst. Lect.) bookDeception in Crime Fiction: A Pragma-Stylistic Analysisis published in the German academic publishing house LAMBERT.

Blurb/ Short text of the book:

Most of the comprehension of verbal deception among readers descends from social psychology and cognitive perspectives, particularly from political, advertising, and forensic discourse. One hitherto neglected domain of discourse is that of literature, particularly crime fiction. The study undertaken presents some of the many strategies which a psychopathic and a non-psychopathic character/first-person narrator may use to deceive readers and characters from a pragma-stylistic perspective. This study focuses on the deceptive strategies utilized in two well-known novels: Christie’s (1926/2009) detective fiction The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Flynn’s (2012) psychological thrillerGone Girl. The study of the stylistic idiosyncrasies of Flynn’s Amy, the psychopathic antagonist, and Christie’s Dr. Sheppard, the nonpsychopathic antagonist, is carried out through a pragma-stylistic eclectic model to explicate their deceptive strategies for the fulfillment of their egoistic ends. The study in question follows an eclectic model which comprises Searle's (1969) speech act theory; Prince et al.'s (1982) hedging; Levinson's (1983) presupposition; Brown and Levinson's (1987) politeness theory; Sperber and Wilson's (1995) relevance theory; Culpeper's (1996) impoliteness; Chen's (2001) self-(im)politeness; Leech and Short's (2007) speech and thought presentation; certain rhetorical devices, namely, metaphor, hyperbole, understatement, rhetorical question, and simile (Leech, 1969; Hübler, 1983; Lakoff & Johnson, 2003; Claridge, 2011; Wales, 2011); and the deceptive principle, to explore the two levels of interaction (viz., character-character level and narrator-reader level) proffered by Black (2006). The present study has three connected objectives: firstly, it aims at exploring the pragma-stylistic nuances between the psychopathic and non-psychopathic character/first-person narrator in respect to deception along with gender and cross-cultural differences in crime fiction. Secondly, it aims at comparing the pragma-stylistic nuances which occur in the genres of Golden Age classic detective fiction and psychological thriller, particularly in the pre- and mid/post-dénouement stages of the novels, in respect to deception. Thirdly, it investigates the pragma-stylistic nuances which give rise to the deceptive strategies on the character-character and narrator- reader levels. The qualitative analysis shows that Amy and Dr. Sheppard are expert metapragmaticians; while Amy is a serial liar who employs a plethora of direct deceptive strategies, Dr. Sheppard is a deceiver who principally relies on indirect strategies to inculcate false beliefs in the narratee, as he is cognizant of the power of what is insinuated but left unsaid. The deceptive strategies that are exploited on the two levels of fictional discourse and the two-stage novel structure are neither quantitively nor qualitatively mirror-symmetrical. It is also found that the fashion via which Amy and Dr. Sheppard deceive exhibits linguistic gender differences, most of which challenge Lakoff’s (1973) observations on the language of women and men.

More photos: