Research point: Aristotle’s first four elements in The Light of Day by Eric Ambler

I find interesting the concept put forward in the introduction to Project 2 The Hero’s Journey that humans make stories ‘to transform the chaos of life into a narrative that makes sense of it all’ (page 71 of the Creative Arts handbook). I had not thought of that before, that our compulsion to create might be explained as an attempt to make meaning out of a disconnected series of events. That basically a plot is a way of connecting facts in a causal way and that characters live that plot in our place, that they are our projected selves.

Having thought that it seems clearer to me what E.M. Forster really wanted to say with his words

“The king died and then the queen died” is a story. “The king died, and then the queen died of grief” is a plot. (Forster, p. 87)


I have recently read a novel that I thoroughly enjoyed, The Light of Day (Topkapi) by Eric Ambler, in an Italian version that I received as a gift. It is basically a crime or spy story with a very brilliant and engaging plot, rich in twists and reversals and set up in a wonderful exotic scenario in the Bosphorus, but it is also more than that. I think that its characters are well-rounded and convincing and the protagonist in particular, Arthur Abdel Simpson, an insignificant but clever small-time thief with an humorously disenchanted view of the world, is absolutely masterful and unforgettable. It seems to me that plot and characters strike a very good balance in this novel.

Also the language and the general tone of the story are of a delightful quality, as far as I can judge from the translation that in any case looks excellent. The theme that perhaps emerges from the story is that appearances are deceitful and that things and people are more often than not different from what they appear. But the tone is never moralistic or embittered, it is rather disillusioned and witty, and seems to say that the world is as it is and we better learn to cope with it.

A wonderful novel.




Forster, E. M. (1956) Aspects of the Novel. [pdf of Forster, E. M. (1956) Aspects of the Novel San Diego, New York, London: Harcourt Inc.]

At:,%20E.%20M.%20-%20Aspects%20of%20the%20Novel%20(1927).pdf  (Accessed 09/11/16)

Ambler, E. (2016) Topkapi. Translated by Mariagrazia Gini. Milano: Adelphi Edizioni S.p.A.


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