The following entry provides critical commentary on major themes, authors, and works associated with the detective fiction genre during the nineteenth century.
Crime and detection have been common elements in world literature, as exemplified in the biblical stories of Cain and Abel and Susanna and the Elders, as well as in works by Sophocles, William Shakespeare, and Voltaire. Despite the long history of crime and detection in literature, detective fiction as a full-fledged genre first appeared in the mid-nineteenth century in the detective stories of Edgar Allan Poe. In “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” first published in Graham's Magazine in 1841, and several subsequent “tales of ratiocination,” Poe created the archetypal pattern for stories of detection: a bizarre crime is committed, a brilliant, seemingly omniscient, detective investigates, solves the puzzle with the aid of superior logical reasoning, and the perpetrator is unmasked. The protagonist of Poe's stories, the perspicacious but eccentric C. Auguste Dupin, inspired generations of subsequent sleuths.
Particular political, social, and ideological forces unique to the nineteenth century are often cited by critics as factors contributing to the emergence of the detective fiction genre during this era. With the advent of bourgeois societies, criminals, who in autocratic societies enjoyed, in the popular imagination, the reputation of heroic rebels, eventually became viewed as a menace by a social class interested in safeguarding its property. At the same time the police, regarded in the eighteenth century as an organization dedicated to protecting autocrats, rose in popular esteem. Once maligned as agents of corrupt kings, members of the police force were now valued for the protection they provided, and the figure of the law enforcement officer became an acceptable protagonist in literature. In the intellectual realm, the Enlightenment brought about a profound respect for the power of reasoning, as well as an overwhelming faith in the ability of science to solve social problems. This paved the way for the development of a new literary hero, the detective-scientist. These protagonists were often gentlemen possessed of such admired traits as scientific knowledge and superior intellect, and they elicited much enthusiasm among nineteenth-century readers.
While Poe's tales of ratiocination were relatively unknown in his own country during his lifetime, they strongly influenced the development of detective prose, and literature in general, in France and England during the 1850s and 1860s. Although not exclusively concerned with crime detection, novels by Emile Gaboriau, Charles Dickens, and Wilkie Collins featured, among other elements, the efforts of policemen to solve crimes in much the same manner as Poe's Dupin. The policeman-hero introduced by these writers inspired the growth of the French roman policier and the American police novel, branches of detective fiction that have flourished in the twentieth century. Other novelists of the time—Mary Elizabeth Braddon in England and Anna Katharine Green in America, for example—created the domestic detective novel in which crime investigation is combined with realistic representations of everyday life, a form of detective fiction that further developed in the twentieth century. By the 1890s, the short story form had eclipsed the novel's popularity, and a number of short works established a new standard for detective prose. The Sherlock Holmes stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which feature the deductive powers of an eccentric amateur detective, are the best known examples of these. Having crystallized and popularized certain elements of Poe's stories, Doyle established a narrative form that exerted considerable influence on later detective prose.
Twentieth-century readings of detective fiction revealed the genre's complexity, alerting critics that these texts contained more than brilliant intellectual gymnastics. For example, commentators, particularly scholars analyzing the works of Collins and Dickens, noted a peculiar authorial ambivalence regarding crime. In fact, the shady world of crime came to symbolize a particular shadow in the Victorian psyche: the dark, and often repressed, reality of England's imperialist policies. Crime novels, particularly works by Collins, also shed light on the social problems of Victorian England, including poverty, discrimination, and domestic violence against women. In Collins's works, for example, critics discerned an effort to explain the mechanism whereby social and psychological forces conspire to place women in such desperate situations that crime seems like the only rational solution. Finally, in works such as Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) commentators saw symptoms of a malaise more profound than the Victorian crisis of conscience: the disintegration of the personality.
Freudian readings, from the earliest critical efforts to the Neo-Freudianism of Jacques Lacan, approached detective prose from a clinical point of view. In fact, critics openly likened the process of criminal detection to psychoanalysis, arguing that the analyst, like the sleuth, searches for the truth. However, since the dominant intellectual paradigms underpinning twentieth-century criticism essentially dispensed with the idea of personal identity, this became a problematic interpretation. While in Freud's construct the ego still retained some relevance, albeit controlled by the id's overwhelming power, in Neo-Freudian thought, as exemplified by Jacques Lacan, there is only a linguistic symbolic order, into which a person is born. According to Lacan, a person's unconscious is totally determined by a symbolic order which is imposed on an individual. Taking a cue from the semantic theory of Ferdinand de Saussure, who divided the semantic universe into “signifiers” (signs, symbols) and “signifieds” (the realities that these signs denote), Lacan posited that signifiers do not denote anything, thus effectively separating the world of signs, as well as the world of psyche, as a self-referential universe. Lacan used Poe's “The Purloined Letter” (1845) to illustrate his theory. According to Lacan, Poe's remarkable story about an ingeniously misplaced letter shows how a signifier (the letter) exerts enormous power over people without referring to anything in particular. Indeed, there are vague hints about the content of the letter throughout the story, but the reader is constantly focused on the object itself, or more specifically, on the absence of it. Thanks to Lacan, and to his detractors, Poe's stories are among the archetypal texts of twentieth and early twenty-first century literary criticism.
Commentary on the importance of nineteenth-century detective fiction has also concentrated on the cultural significance of the hero and the function of the genre in literary history. The detective of this era was viewed, according to critics, as a kind of prophet of logical reasoning who becomes viewed as a sort of savior for his defense of moral order. At the same time, as Elliot L. Gilbert (see Further Reading) points out, the detective's inevitable failures in an increasingly mechanized and godless society reflect late nineteenth-century awareness of the limitations of the reasoning process. Thus, the genre of detective fiction in the nineteenth century is often viewed as a transition between Romantic faith in the perfectibility of the world and Victorian disillusionment with its harsh realities.
Thomas Bailey Aldrich
The Stillwater Tragedy (novel) 1880
Honoré de Balzac
Illusions perdues (novel) 1843 [Lost Illusions, 1925]
Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Lady Audley's Secret (novel) 1862
A Strange World (novel) 1875
An Open Verdict (novel) 1878
Just As I Am (novel) 1880
Wyllard's Weird (novel) 1885
Pelham; or, the Adventures of a Gentleman (novel) 1828
Eugene Aram: A Tale (novel) 1832
Night and Morning (novel) 1841
The Woman in White (novel) 1860
The Moonstone (novel) 1868
The Law and the Lady (novel) 1875
Bleak House (novel) 1852-53
The Mystery of Edwin Drood (novel) 1870
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
A Study in Scarlet (novel) 1887
The Sign of Four (novel) 1890
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (short stories) 1892
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (short stories) 1893
The Hound of the Baskervilles (novel) 1901-02
The Return of Sherlock Holmes (short stories) 1905
The Valley of Fear (novel) 1914-15
His Last Bow: Some Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes (short stories) 1917
The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (short stories) 1927
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SOURCE: Gillespie, Gerald. “The Romantic Discourse of Detection in Nineteenth-Century Fiction.” In Fiction, Narratologie, Texte, Genre, edited by Jean Bessière, pp. 203-12. New York: Peter Lang, 1989.
[In the following essay, first published in a 1985 French language edition of Fiction, Narratologie, Texte, Genre, Gillespie observes that authorial interest in textual interpretation, evident in nineteenth-century detective stories and related genres, anticipated theories of interpretation developed in the twentieth century.]
My limited purpose in this brief paper is to illustrate only some features of one aspect of the detective story, but an important aspect present in the first clear examples of this new genre which Romanticism bequeathed to the nineteenth century: the linkage between the discourse of detection and the problematics of text interpretation.
Since so many of E. T. A. Hoffmann's works involve us in elaborate labors of interrelated detection and interpretation, I shall reserve wider treatment of his works for another occasion and confine myself here to his seminal novella Das Fräulein von Scuderi (1819), subtitled a “tale from the age of Louis XIV” and set in a Paris teeming with dangers and secrets. Speaking in a voice of historical authority, an unidentified narrator relates the dramatic appearance of a youth who seeks entry by night into the house...
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SOURCE: Thomas, Ronald R. “Minding the Body Politic: the Romance of Science and the Revision of History in Victorian Detective Fiction.” Victorian Literature and Culture 19 (1991): 233-54.
[In the following essay, Thomas suggests that Victorian society's desperate need to distance itself from the world of crime reflects a feeling of collective guilt caused by Britain's imperialist policies.]
Once we happened to speak of Conan Doyle and his creation, Sherlock Holmes. I had thought that Freud would have no use for this type of light reading matter, and was surprised to find that this was not at all the case and that Freud had read this author attentively.
(The Wolf-Man, My Recollections of Sigmund Freud)
As Cuvier could correctly describe a whole animal by the contemplation of a single bone, so the observer who has thoroughly understood one link in a series of incidents should be able to accurately state all the other ones, both before and after.
(Sherlock Holmes, “The Five Orange Pips”)
Having been through the remarkable analysis of his own dream with Freud, the Wolf-Man should not have been surprised to discover that Freud was so attentive a reader of detective literature in general and of the Sherlock Holmes stories in particular. The analogy...
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SOURCE: Thomas, Ronald R. “Victorian Detective Fiction and Legitimate Literature: Recent Directions in the Criticism.” Victorian Literature and Culture 24 (1996): 367-79.
[In the following essay, Thomas asserts that Victorian attitudes toward crime fiction persist in twentieth-century criticism.]
From its first appearance—usually traced to Edgar Allan Poe in America and to Charles Dickens in England—critics have viewed detective fiction with a suspicious eye. Anthony Trollope condemned its unrealistic preoccupation with plots that were too complex and characters that were too simple. Mrs. Oliphant warned about the dangers of its implicit celebration of criminality and rebelliousness. Henry James regarded it and its twin, the sensation novel, as “not so much works of art as works of science.” Indeed, some of the most ardent articulations of the aesthetic and moral attributes of high Victorian realism were occasioned by anxiety over the cheap effects and immense popularity of nineteenth-century detective and sensation fiction. Modern defenders as diverse as T. S. Eliot, Raymond Chandler, and Edmund Wilson countered such sentiments with their variously-pointed admirations for the form, while more recent critics have continued the debate over the moral and literary merit of detective fiction, its status as a literary genre, its ideological affiliations, and its evolution as a form of popular...
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Criticism: Origins And Influences
SOURCE: Merivale, Patricia. “Gumshoe Gothics: ‘The Man of the Crowd’ and His Followers.” In Narrative Ironies, edited by Raymond A. Prier and Gerald Gillespie, pp. 163-79. Atlanta, Ga.: Rodopi, 1997.
[In the following essay, Merivale examines Edgar Allan Poe's “The Man of the Crowd” as a precursor to metaphysical, or postmodern, detective fiction.]
We, reading the detective novel, are an invention of Edgar Allan Poe.
Borges, “The Detective Story,” 21
“An excellent idea, I think, to start from a dead body” said Kobo Abe (Inter Ice Age 4, 47) and Hubert Aquin, similarly, “l'investigation délirante de Sherlock Holmes débute immanquablement à partir d'un cadavre” (“Sherlock Holmes's dizzying investigation unfailingly starts off from a corpse” [Trou de mémoire, 82]). About how the classical detective story starts they were both right. But of course quite often there isn't a corpse in the postmodern library: “There is no body in the house at all,” said Sylvia Plath, in an inscrutable poem called “The Detective” (1962; 209), which I suspect is, like most of the texts I am discussing, about Missing Persons, rather than Dead Bodies. There is, however, always a book there, or rather a corpus of many books, for the “metaphysical” (otherwise known as the “anti-” or the...
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SOURCE: Magistrale, Tony, and Sidney Poger. “Originating Lines: The Importance of Poe.” In Poe's Children: Connections between Tales of Terror and Detection, pp. 11-28. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 1999.
[In the following essay, Magistrale and Poger define Edgar Allan Poe as a quintessentially Romantic writer whose detective stories are best understood when examined within the context of his tales of horror.]
Poe's was a master's vision of the terror that stalks about and within us, and the worm that writhes and slavers in the hideously close abyss.
[Poe] is the undisputed father of the detective story, although he would be disconcerted by many of his children and grandchildren.
Romanticism is untidy and imprecise. The concept is almost as difficult to define as are the precise dates of its history. And certainly its evolution, extending from the Gothic revolution of the late eighteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century, was in part a reaction against the rational objectivity of eighteenth-century Neoclassicism. While the neoclassical mind believed in an intelligible world maintained by a solid adherence to accepted tradition and form, the Romantic looked inward toward the self as the place where Truth and...
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SOURCE: Magistrale, Tony, and Sidney Poger. “Poe's Victorian Disguises: The Hound of the Baskervilles and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” In Poe's Children: Connections between Tales of Terror and Detection, pp. 45-55. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 1999.
[In the following essay, Magistrale and Poger argue that works such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's ”The Hound of the Baskervilles” and Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde reflect Edgar Allan Poe's conception of the human psyche as the ultimate mystery.]
Jekyll and Hyde is a pre-Jungian fable, a vivid illustration of the Shadow side of a decent man, that aspect of our natures whose presence we all have to acknowledge.
(Aldiss qtd. in Wolf 114)
Fifty years after Poe invented the detective story and provided the horror tale with a level of psychological intensity to which it had not been previously subjected, Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson adapted Poe's techniques in two of their most popular novels. Interestingly, Sherlock Holmes depreciated Dupin to Watson in A Study in Scarlet: “In my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow. That trick of his of breaking in on his friends' [sic] thoughts with an apropos remark after a quarter of an hour's silence is really very showy and superficial. He had some...
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SOURCE: Reitz, Caroline. “Bad Cop/Good Cop: Godwin, Mill and the Imperial Origins of the English Detective.” Novel 33, no. 2 (spring 2000): 175-95.
[In the following essay, Reitz asserts that the detective genre, as exemplified by William Godwin's novel Things as They Are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams (1794), which is generally regarded as the earliest detective novel, reflects the crisis of Britain's imperialist culture.]
Our understanding of detective fiction as a strictly domestic genre takes its cue from the standard line of histories of the English police: English police embody, from their beginning, such national values as mild justice and local autonomy and are, in this respect, opposed to the centralized authority of foreign models of policing. T. A. Critchley, a twentieth-century historian of the police, provides an exemplary description of such a position: the “character” of England's “mild system of police … owe[s] everything to native manners, nothing at all to foreign influences” (55). Such a story forgets the police's imperial origins in the early and formative police systems in Ireland and India, thereby enabling the police to be read as a home-grown invention.1 The view that the detective genre, like the English police, “owes everything to native manners” has become its standard history. And Caleb Williams, with its searing criticism of...
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SOURCE: Kushigian, Julia A. “The Detective Story Genre in Poe and Borges.” Latin American Literary Review 11, no. 22 (spring-summer 1983): 27-39.
[In the following essay, Kushigian traces connections between the detective stories of Edgar Allan Poe and Jorge Luis Borges, and concludes that the two writers share a unique perception of the world.]
Jorge Luis Borges has remarked that writers create their precursors. This statement suggests that the precursor's text should be read and understood in a unique manner, whereupon a reading of the precursor's text is viewed in the light of the author's (in this situation, Borges') more recent text. Borges has in a sense inverted the downward movement of influence from precursor to author. In this manner he aligns himself to the theory of literature expressed by T. S. Eliot in his article, «Tradition and the Individual Talent». Briefly stated, the history suggests that new poets should be compared and contrasted with all poets, both living and dead, and that the existing order of literature should then be readjusted to make a place for the new poet (reinforcing conformity between the old and the new). In this fashion the past is altered by the present as much as the present is altered by the past. To this scheme we may suggest the author Borges, who assumes his place among many great literary figures such as Kafka, Cervantes and Poe, to name only a few who...
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SOURCE: Dameron, J. Lasley. “Poe's C. Auguste Dupin.” In No Fairer Land: Studies in Southern Literature Before 1900, edited by J. Lasley Dameron and James W. Mathews, pp. 159-71. Troy, N.Y.: The Whitston Publishing Company, 1986.
[In the following essay, Dameron delineates why Edgar Allan Poe's fictional detective C. Auguste Dupin is considered “a major hero in American literature.”]
Edgar Allan Poe's super detective, C. Auguste Dupin, as every English teacher knows, appears in three of Poe's most familiar so-called “detective stories”: “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt,” and “The Purloined Letter.”1 He is significant, I argue, because like the American cowboy he is a part of our cultural heritage. We see him not only in a myriad of modern British and American detective stories and novels, but especially in the traits of several prominent and popular detectives of our time: Hercule Poirot, Father Brown, Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, Jane Marple, and, of course, Sherlock Holmes.
The late poet and critic Allen Tate, one of Poe's best critics, once wrote that readers of Poe “are peculiarly liable to the vanity of discovery.”2 But often discoveries in Poe are not mere impressions or unconsidered opinions. A. Conan Doyle, for example, once wrote that “Poe is … the supreme original short story writer of all...
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SOURCE: Morris, Virginia. “Mary Elizabeth Braddon: The Most Despicable of her Sex.” In Double Jeopardy: Women Who Kill in Victorian Fiction, pp. 88-104. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1990.
[In the following essay, Morris explains how detective fiction mirrored Victorian attitudes and conventions regarding crime, as writers struggled to move from a stance of empty moralizing to a deeper understanding of the social and psychological roots of criminal behavior, particularly among women.]
The women who shoot, poison, stab, steal, and blackmail their way through the sensation novels of the 1800s changed the nature of crime and criminals in Victorian fiction. These women are more ambitiously independent and less sexually repressed than traditional heroines, and their criminality is pervasive, violent, and even bizarre. Like comparable characters in other Victorian literature, they reaffirm the nineteenth-century precept that female sexuality and criminality are inextricably intertwined. But they also introduce the revolutionary idea that women are capable of committing almost any crime to achieve their personal goals. Ironically, those goals are almost always highly conventional: romantic happiness and financial security through marriage.
While the criminal women in sensation fiction are assertive and aggressive, they are rarely monstrous, although Margaret Oliphant and her...
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SOURCE: Morris, Virginia. “Wilkie Collins: No Deliverance but in Death.” In Double Jeopardy: Women who Kill in Victorian Fiction, pp. 105-26. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1990.
[In the following essay, Morris discusses women criminals in the novels of Wilkie Collins, and asserts that Collins portrays criminal behavior among women as a revolt against domestic violence, and by presenting the women characters as intelligent, normal, and rational, rather than simple-minded, deviant, or depraved, Collins undermined traditional Victorian gender roles as well as the established, acceptable motives for murder in Victorian fiction.]
Wilkie Collins, writing in the same decade and same genre as Braddon, was bolder in creating criminal women. Using sensational elements to startle and shock, he structured his work around people rather than events at the same time that he deliberately challenged the conventions of middle-class Victorian society. His women are more realistic and their motives more complex than those of most sensation novelists, in part because he was more adept at character development. But he was also convinced that women were not only as intelligent and determined as men, but equally convulsed by the agonies of moral choice and equally capable of asocial or amoral solutions.
Questioning the Victorian convention that self-abnegating devotion to family was a woman's...
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SOURCE: Jann, Rosemary. “‘Cherchez la femme.’” In The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Detecting Social Order, pp. 103-26. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1995.
[In the following essay, Jann analyzes the Victorian perception that female sexuality was dangerous and delineates Arthur Conan Doyle's treatment of women's sexuality and transgressive behavior in his novels.]
In the end, it all boils down to sex and money; these, in varying mixtures, are the chief motivators of crime in the Holmes canon, as in detective fiction in general. I have chosen my chapter title, French for “seek the woman,” to focus attention on assumptions about the problematic nature of female sexuality in such texts. The fact that this phrase has long outlived its source, Alexandre Dumas's detective novel The Mohicans of Paris (1854-55), and entered into common parlance suggests the extent to which our society still assumes that women are somehow more directly responsible for the disruptions caused by sexual desire than are men. This may be in part an acknowledgment that in a world in which power has conventionally been controlled by males, women are viewed as having no real agency, except as sexual irritants or distractions. Whenever the smooth progress of male order is derailed, we suspect that sexual desire has caused the obstruction and look for the woman who inspired it. In the process, the blame for disorder is...
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SOURCE: Kestner, Joseph A. “‘Real’ Men: Construction of Masculinity in the Sherlock Holmes Narratives.” Studies in the Literary Imagination 29, no. 1 (spring 1996): 73-88.
[In the following essay, Kestner explains how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories influenced Victorian conceptions of masculinity.]
If we understand masculinity as a constant contradictory struggle rather than just the privileged position within a power disequilibrium, we come closer to a full definition of gender studies.
In Critical Practice, Catherine Belsey describes a theory of reading and a theory of text generation integral to the practices of the nineteenth century—“the theory of expressive realism”: “This is the theory that literature reflects the reality of experience as it is perceived by one … individual, who expresses it in a discourse which enables other individuals to recognize it as true” (7). Belsey then observes:
Expressive realism belongs roughly to the last century and a half, the period of industrial capitalism. … The procedures of expressive realism have certain ideological implications which may indicate that their development during this period is more than coincidental. … Formulations of commonsense positions are found most often in...
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SOURCE: Thoms, Peter. “The Stories of Poe's Dupin.” In Detection & Its Designs: Narrative & Power in 19th-Century Detective Fiction, pp. 44-70. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1998.
[In the following essay, Thoms analyzes Edgar Allan Poe's stories featuring detective C. Auguste Dupin, and asserts that in “the Dupin stories the detective emerges not as the criminal's polar opposite but as an ambiguous figure who shares that transgressor's desire for control.”]
Caleb Williams strips storytelling of its innocuous veneer to expose its sinister motives. In the novel's opening chapters Caleb's narrative appetite, like the reader's curiosity, seems relatively innocent and harmless: he indulges his private passion first in reading books and then—in a shift that might initially appear equally harmless—in reading his mysterious employer. But through Godwin's depiction of his latter act—of Caleb's reading, detecting, and writing of Falkland—we eventually discern that narration is an oppressive assertion of power and that the storymaking of Caleb, Falkland, and Tyrrel does not so much reflect as create “things as they are.”
In turning now to Poe's amateur investigator, Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin, we again confront the issue of the detective's storytelling and how it situates him in relation to the shadowy world he attempts to describe. Certainly the three stories...
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SOURCE: Werner, James V. “The Detective Gaze: Edgar A. Poe, the Flaneur, and the Physiognomy of Crime.” American Transcendental Quarterly 15, no. 1 (March 2001): 5-21.
[In the following essay, Werner identifies Edgar Allan Poe's detective C. Auguste Dupin as an example of what critic Walter Benjamin termed a “flaneur,” and asserts that Poe's use of this careful observer, who interacts within but still remains apart from the world he surveys, “represents a pivotal influence on Poe's philosophical perspective and fictional aims and strategies.”]
Among the many achievements in the short and difficult life of Edgar A. Poe was the creation of the detective tale as a popular literary genre. The extraordinary feats of ratiocination performed by C. Auguste Dupin in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Purloined Letter,” and “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” have entertained countless young readers in the past 150 years, and attracted enormous critical attention. Some of that attention, most notably Dana Brand's The Spectator and the City in Nineteenth-Century American Literature, has focused on the relationship between Poe's detective and the flaneur, the solitary strolling metropolitan observer theorized by Walter Benjamin in “Paris: Capital of the Nineteenth Century,” in his essay “The Flaneur,” and in its revised version “On some motifs in Baudelaire.” Within the...
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Criticism: Freud And Detective Fiction
SOURCE: Thomas, Ronald R. “The Policing of Dreams: Nineteenth-Century Detection.” In Dreams of Authority: Freud and the Fictions of the Unconscious, pp. 193-253. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1990.
[In the following excerpt, Thomas illustrates the similarities and connections between the investigative techniques employed by detectives in nineteenth-century literature and Freudian methods and theories of dreams and the unconscious.]
Upon the winding up of the tragedy involved in the deaths of Madame L'Espanaye and her daughter, the Chevalier dismissed the affair at once from his attention, and relapsed into his old habit of moody revery. Prone, at all times, to abstraction, I readily fell in with his humour; and continuing to occupy our chambers in the Faubourg Saint Germain, we gave the Future to the winds, and slumbered tranquilly in the Present, weaving the dull world around us into dreams.
—Edgar Allan Poe, “The Mystery of Marie Roget”
Once we happened to speak of Conan Doyle and his creation, Sherlock Holmes. I had thought that Freud would have no use for this type of light reading matter, and was surprised to find that this was not at all the case and that Freud had read this author attentively.
—The Wolf-Man, “My Recollections of Sigmund Freud”...
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Barzun, Jacques, and Wendel Hertig Taylor. A Catalogue of Crime. Revised and enlarged edition. New York: Harper & Row, 1989, 952 p.
Annotated bibliography of more than thirty-five thousand novels, short stories, anthologies, magazines, and dramas of detection, crime, mystery, and espionage, including secondary literature.
Altick, Richard D. “Literature with a Sanguinary Cast.” In his Victorian Studies in Scarlet, pp. 76-85. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1970.
Examination of the subject of murder in the “penny dreadful,” the Newgate novel, and in the works of Dickens and Collins.
Barsham, Diana. “Tortured Bodies and Nervous Narratives: The Novels of the 1890s.” In Arthur Conan Doyle and the Meaning of Masculinity, pp. 143-86. Aldershot, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2000.
Explains Doyle's ideas of masculinity in the context of his concern for women's social and personal rights.
Barzun, Jacques. “From Phèdre to Sherlock Holmes.” In his The Energies of Art: Studies of Authors Classic and Modern, pp. 303-23. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1956.
Outlines the history of detective fiction and suggests that strict conventions of the genre limited its development....
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