Detective Fiction Criticism: Overviews - Essay

Gerald Gillespie (essay date 1985)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

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...

(The entire section is 3695 words.)

Ronald R. Thomas (essay date 1991)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

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...

(The entire section is 10624 words.)

Ronald R. Thomas (essay date 1996)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

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...

(The entire section is 5586 words.)