The Figure of the Detective

A Literary History and Analysis


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SKU: 9780786477692 Categories: , , , ,

About the Book

This book begins with a history of the detective genre, coextensive with the novel itself, identifying the attitudes and institutions needed for the genre to emerge in its mature form around 1880. The theory of the genre is laid out along with its central theme of the getting and deployment of knowledge. Sherlock Holmes, the English Classic stories and their inheritors are examined in light of this theme and the balance of two forms of knowledge used in fictional detection—cool or rational, and warm or emotional. The evolution of the genre formula is driven by changes in the social climate in which it is embedded. These changes explain the decay of the English Classic and its replacement by noir, hardboiled and spy stories, to end in the cul-de-sac of the thriller and the nostalgic Neo-Classic. Possible new forms of the detective story are suggested.

About the Author(s)

Charles Brownson is a professor emeritus of Arizona State University. A book artist who produces unique handmade books and has written several detective stories, he lives in Tempe, Arizona.

Bibliographic Details

Charles Brownson
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7769-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1272-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction 5
1. The ­Pre-­Classical Detective 11
2. Sherlock Holmes—Rationality and the Detective Artist 35
3. The English Classic 55
4. Psycho-­Intuitive and Noir 73
5. Hard-­Boiled, Spies and Thrillers 96
6. The Neoclassic Revival 130
7. Metaphysical Modern 159
Appendix: Chronological List of Films Mentioned in the Text 187
Chapter Notes 189
Bibliography 201
Index 207

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Winner, 2015 Silver Falchion Award—Killer Nashville
  • Finalist, Edgar Allan Poe Award—Mystery Writers of America
  • Finalist, Best Critical or Non-Fiction Work—Bouchercon World Mystery Convention
  • Finalist, Macavity Award—Mystery Readers International