Ruth Rendell: A Dark-Adapted Eye

(1368 words)
  • Susan A. Rowland (University of Greenwich)

The first novel written by Rendell under the nom-de-plume of Barbara Vine, A Dark-Adapted Eye could be read as a long argument against the death penalty. It also established a perennial theme of the Vine novels, how extreme passion within families, particularly between parents (especially mothers) and children, is ultimately unfathomable and yet has profound effects on succeeding generations. Desire is “dark” in two senses for Vine’s novels. It can motivate cruelty, violence and crime, as well as manifesting as something darkly unknowable about the nature of human beings. In A Dark-Adapted Eye, an apparently ordinary woman, Vera, is hanged in the 1950s for the murder of her beloved sister, Edith …

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Rowland, Susan A.. "A Dark-Adapted Eye". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 03 June 2005
[, accessed 04 July 2015.]

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  1. Crime, Detective, Spy/ Thriller Fiction