Did Agatha Christie suffer from Alzheimer’s at the end? U of T Magazine reports on a Canadian study intended to use computers to find out.
Avid Christie fans had the unsettling feeling that there might have been: the plot wasn’t as tight, the mystery not as carefully conceived. In 2004, the English academic Peter Garrard argued that evidence of Iris Murdoch’s Alzheimer’s disease appeared in her written work even before her doctor diagnosed it. So Ian Lancashire, an English professor at the University of Toronto, decided to analyze a selection of Christie’s novels.
He teamed up with Graeme Hirst, a professor in the computer science department. After digitizing copies of the books and developing their own analytical software, they examined the first 50,000 words of 16 of Christie’s novels. The earliest one, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was written at the beginning of her career, when she was in her mid-twenties. The last one, Postern of Fate, was penned when she was 82. She died at 85 of natural causes.
Most historical studies, operating on an evolutionist/materialist model, are written from the point of view that people first organized towns and cities (the beginnings of civilization) for economic reasons, developing religious institutions, as a sort of afterthought, later on.
But a German-born archaeologist, Klaus Schmidt is challenging that assumption, on the basis of a discovery in Turkey.
Schmidt has uncovered a vast and beautiful temple complex, a structure so ancient that it may be the very first thing human beings ever built. The site isn’t just old, it redefines old: the temple was built 11,500 years ago—a staggering 7,000 years before the Great Pyramid, and more than 6,000 years before Stonehenge first took shape. The ruins are so early that they predate villages, pottery, domesticated animals, and even agriculture—the first embers of civilization. In fact, Schmidt thinks the temple itself, built after the end of the last Ice Age by hunter-gatherers, became that ember—the spark that launched mankind toward farming, urban life, and all that followed.
Tip: First Thoughts.