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Detecting Texts: The Metaphysical Detective Story from Poe to Postmodernism
     

Detecting Texts: The Metaphysical Detective Story from Poe to Postmodernism

by Patricia Merivale (Editor), Susan Elizabeth Sweeney (Editor), Susan E. Sweeney (Editor)
 
"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

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.

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

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)

What People are Saying About This

Shawn Rosenheim
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.

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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