QSP Forum

Quiller Scholarship:
A Manifesto

Rick Holt

I'd like to take this occasion of the second edition of the "Quiller Scholar Pages" to more fully explain the principles of Quiller scholarship.  The reader should take note that what is written here is my personal opinion, and not necessarily that of any other contributor.

Rather than justify Quiller scholarship in essay form, I thought it would be more direct to advance the following six principles, which I choose to call the "Manifesto":

Quiller Scholarship:  A Manifesto

1.  Quiller scholarship sees the Q-orpus as a beginning.

Quiller scholars assume that the nineteen novels written by Elleston Trevor, (Adam Hall), are not an end, but a starting point.  By this, I mean the novels form the basis of an extended, highly idiosyncratic world view which comes to us, the readers, through the first-person narration of Quiller.  However, because of the density of explanation contained in the novels, considerable explication, discussion, and debate is necessary for the critical reader to come to a true understanding of the material Hall presents through the voice of Quiller.

2.  Quiller scholarship teaches.

The primary goal of Quiller scholars is to teach.  Quiller scholars believe that it is only through close reading and analysis that the truth of what is occurring in the Quiller novels can be ascertained.  Unfortunately, many people do not read closely; hence, when issues about Quiller are debated, they are often characterized by assertions that reflect a surface, haphazard, or careless understanding of what is going on the text.  The responsibility of Quiller scholarship is, through hard work, to teach readers to pay attention to details and thereby avoid the making of ill-informed statements.

3.  Quiller scholarship is a sacred duty.

The creation and refinement of the character of Quiller is a series of events without parallel in the field of suspense fiction, and indeed all of literature.  Elleston Trevor's ability to define Quiller's extraordinary complexity demands no less of Quiller scholars than that we take Quiller just as seriously as Elleston must have had to.  We must rise to the high standard Elleston Trevor has set.

4.  Quiller scholarship makes trouble.

Quiller scholars are not concerned with maintaining an even keel.  Unfortunately, there is all too much of that in Quiller discussions.  We are eager to advance new issues, new questions, and we welcome debate and disagreement.  While we try to maintain an elevated tone of discourse, the overly-sensitive should try to realize that taking a contrary position is not a personal affront; rather, to engage another in polite debate is the ultimate form of respect for the other's opinion.

5.  Quiller scholarship is hard work.

It is to Elleston Trevor's credit that there is so much substantive material in the Q-orpus that it is even possible for us to discuss Quiller to the degree we do.  However, to reveal what Elleston might have intended (or, indeed, to bring in comparisons from areas of knowledge he might not have intended) is demanding and exacting work.  At minimum, it involves, first, relentless examination and cataloguing of data from the Q-orpus, and second, scrupulous research about the meaning of that data as it may connect in an infinite number of ways to the broader universe of knowledge.  We take the encyclopediac knowledge of Mr. Trevor and his creation, Quiller, as an inspiration to make ourselves equally as knowledgeable.

6.  Quiller scholarship is never done.

There is no point at which we will be finished with Quiller.  Quiller scholars intend to move forward into Quiller studies and to pursue whatever direction our work appears to suggest to us.  Quiller scholarship resolutely resists the idea that real understanding of Mr. Trevor or Quiller lies in the past, whether in Quiller novels that the cautious warn we "shouldn't read too much into" or in hazy memories offered to clear some highly specific point in substantive discussion of the novels in the present day.  All literature, all readers, and all of life is in a state of becoming and nothing is ever settled.  "You won't get far," Quiller reminds us, "if you spend your life in a museum." [TWD, 11:8]  Elleston Trevor clearly understood that and so should we.

These, then, are the elements of the "Manifesto" for Quiller studies.  These are my personal opinions, not those of the contributors, and I make no apologies for the tone of what is here written.  If words like "duty," "sacred," "trouble," and "work" bother you, it would perhaps be better for you to seek a site which makes you more comfortable.  If, on the other hand, you find yourself in either agreement or disagreement with points of the "Manifesto," please feel free to respond and (space permitting) your response will be placed on the "QSP Forum," unedited, for the next issue of the "Quiller Scholar Pages."  I can be reached at the email address at the bottom of this page.

Created by Rick Holt (Iron Mouth)  E-mail:  ironmouth@sprintmail.com
Copyright (c) 1997
Disclaimer:  all opinions not expressly attributed to other contributors are solely my own.