Detective Fiction Criticism: Major Authors - Essay

Julia A. Kushigian (essay date spring-summer 1983)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

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...

(The entire section is 6008 words.)

J. Lasley Dameron (essay date 1986)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

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...

(The entire section is 4719 words.)

Virginia Morris (essay date 1990)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

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....

(The entire section is 6474 words.)

Virginia Morris (essay date 1990)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

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 entire section is 7796 words.)

Rosemary Jann (essay date 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

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...

(The entire section is 12703 words.)

Joseph A. Kestner (essay date spring 1996)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

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.

Stearns 108

In Critical Practice, Catherine Belsey describes a theory of...

(The entire section is 6967 words.)

Peter Thoms (essay date 1998)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

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...

(The entire section is 9588 words.)

James V. Werner (essay date March 2001)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

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...

(The entire section is 7411 words.)