Detecting Texts: The Metaphysical Detective Story from Poe to Postmodernism

Detecting Texts: The Metaphysical Detective Story from Poe to Postmodernism

by Patricia Merivale
     
 

Although readers of detective fiction ordinarily expect to learn the mystery's solution at the end, there is another kind of detective story—the history of which encompasses writers as diverse as Poe, Borges, Robbe-Grillet, Auster, and Stephen King—that ends with a question rather than an answer. The detective not only fails to solve the crime, but also

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Overview

Although readers of detective fiction ordinarily expect to learn the mystery's solution at the end, there is another kind of detective story—the history of which encompasses writers as diverse as Poe, Borges, Robbe-Grillet, Auster, and Stephen King—that ends with a question rather than an answer. The detective not only fails to solve the crime, but also confronts insoluble mysteries of interpretation and identity. As the contributors to Detecting Texts contend, such stories belong to a distinct genre, the "metaphysical detective story," in which the detective hero's inability to interpret the mystery inevitably casts doubt on the reader's similar attempt to make sense of the text and the world.

Detecting Texts includes an introduction by the editors that defines the metaphysical detective story and traces its history from Poe's classic tales to today's postmodernist experiments. In addition to the editors, contributors include Stephen Bernstein, Joel Black, John T. Irwin, Jeffrey T. Nealon, and others.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780812216769
Publisher:
University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
Publication date:
01/28/1999
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
0.71(w) x 6.00(h) x 9.00(d)

Table of Contents

Preface
The Game's Afoot: On the Trail of the Metaphysical Detective Story1
Armchair Detecting, or the Corpus in the Library
1Mysteries We Reread, Mysteries of Rereading: Poe, Borges, and the Analytic Detective Story27
2Borges's Library of Forking Paths55
3(De)feats of Detection: The Spurious Key Text from Poe to Eco75
Hard-Boiling Metaphysics
4Gumshoe Gothics: Poe's "The Man of the Crowd" and His Followers101
5Work of the Detective, Work of the Writer: Auster's City of Glass117
6"The Question Is the Story Itself": Postmodernism and Intertextuality in Auster's New York Trilogy134
Postmortem: Modern and Postmodern
7Reader-Investigators in the Post-Nouveau Roman: Lahougue, Peeters, and Perec157
8"A Thousand Other Mysteries": Metaphysical Detection, Ontological Quests179
9Postmodernism and the Monstrous Criminal: In Robbe-Grillet's Investigative Cell199
Forging Identities
10Detecting Identity in Time and Space: Modiano's Rue des Boutiques Obscures and Tabucchi's Il Filo dell'orizzonte217
11"Premeditated Crimes": The Dis-Solution of Detective Fiction in Gombrowicz's Works231
12"Subject-Cases" and "Book-Cases": Impostures and Forgeries from Poe to Auster247
In Place of an Ending
Suggestions for Further Reading273
Contributors285
Index289

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