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Detecting Texts: The Metaphysical Detective Story from Poe to Postmodernism

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"Metaphysical detective stories reveal much about the relation of modernism to postmodernism and of high to low literary culture. Detecting Texts makes an excellent case for the coherence and breadth of the genre. Its broad scope, clear writing, and notable contributions to a number of literary subfields are among its many virtues."
--Shawn Rosenheim, Williams College

Although readers of detective fiction ordinarily expect to learn the
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1998 Hard cover First edition. New/Unused/Unmarked/Unread. No Dust Jackets Issued/Black Cloth Over Boards. Not a Remainder, Return, or Previously Owned. Sewn binding. Cloth over ... boards. 304 p. Audience: General/trade. NEW/UNUSED/UNMARKED/UNREAD from the Publisher. No Dust Jackets Issued/Black Cloth Over Boards. No Dust Jackets Issued/Black Cloth Over Boards. Not a Remainder, Return, or Previously Owned. U.S. Domestic Tracking/Confirmation Included. Via USPS, Will Ship International, APO/FPO/DPO, PO Boxes, all US 50 States/Territories, Priority and please inquire for Express. All orders are packed carefully/securely, with packing materials to help with quality control, so you may receive your order as described or better, and shipped directly from our facility to provide fast/personal service [Canada/Domestic]. We do our best to ship before expected shipping date and provide honest descriptions. [Note: Residential/Office Deliveries-Please give details on your order how you would like your package left so we Read more Show Less

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Overview

"Metaphysical detective stories reveal much about the relation of modernism to postmodernism and of high to low literary culture. Detecting Texts makes an excellent case for the coherence and breadth of the genre. Its broad scope, clear writing, and notable contributions to a number of literary subfields are among its many virtues."
--Shawn Rosenheim, Williams College

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.

Patricia Merivale is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of British Columbia.

Susan Elizabeth Sweeney is Associate Professor of English at the College of the Holy Cross.

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Editorial Reviews

David Bowman
Detecting Texts struck me as one of those useless academic titles that exist to be published, not read.
Bookforum
From the Publisher

"Metaphysical detective stories reveal much about the relation of modernism to postmodernism and of high to low literary culture. Detecting Texts makes an excellent case for the coherence and breadth of the genre. Its broad scope, clear writing, and notable contributions to a number of literary subfields are among its many virtues."—Shawn Rosenheim, Williams College

"No currently available anthology addresses the topic of the metaphysical detective story so directly, so fully, or so relevantly."—Brian McHale, West Virginia University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812234695
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/1998
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.16 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Merivale is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of British Columbia. Susan Elizabeth Sweeney is Associate Professor of English at the College of the Holy Cross.
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Table of Contents

Preface
The Game's Afoot: On the Trail of the Metaphysical Detective Story 1
Armchair Detecting, or the Corpus in the Library
1 Mysteries We Reread, Mysteries of Rereading: Poe, Borges, and the Analytic Detective Story 27
2 Borges's Library of Forking Paths 55
3 (De)feats of Detection: The Spurious Key Text from Poe to Eco 75
Hard-Boiling Metaphysics
4 Gumshoe Gothics: Poe's "The Man of the Crowd" and His Followers 101
5 Work of the Detective, Work of the Writer: Auster's City of Glass 117
6 "The Question Is the Story Itself": Postmodernism and Intertextuality in Auster's New York Trilogy 134
Postmortem: Modern and Postmodern
7 Reader-Investigators in the Post-Nouveau Roman: Lahougue, Peeters, and Perec 157
8 "A Thousand Other Mysteries": Metaphysical Detection, Ontological Quests 179
9 Postmodernism and the Monstrous Criminal: In Robbe-Grillet's Investigative Cell 199
Forging Identities
10 Detecting Identity in Time and Space: Modiano's Rue des Boutiques Obscures and Tabucchi's Il Filo dell'orizzonte 217
11 "Premeditated Crimes": The Dis-Solution of Detective Fiction in Gombrowicz's Works 231
12 "Subject-Cases" and "Book-Cases": Impostures and Forgeries from Poe to Auster 247
In Place of an Ending
Suggestions for Further Reading 273
Contributors 285
Index 289
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