Theory And Practice Of Classic Detective Fiction

Overview

Combining theoretical and practical approaches, this collection of essays explores classic detective fiction from a variety of contemporary viewpoints. Among the diverse perspectives are those which interrogate the way the genre reflects important social and cultural attitudes, contributes to a reader's ability to adapt to the challenges of daily life, and provides alternate takes on the role of the detective as an investigator and arbiter of truth.

Part I looks at the nature of...

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Overview

Combining theoretical and practical approaches, this collection of essays explores classic detective fiction from a variety of contemporary viewpoints. Among the diverse perspectives are those which interrogate the way the genre reflects important social and cultural attitudes, contributes to a reader's ability to adapt to the challenges of daily life, and provides alternate takes on the role of the detective as an investigator and arbiter of truth.

Part I looks at the nature of and the audience for detective fiction, as well as at the genre as a literary form. This section includes an inquiry into the role of the detective; an application of object-relations psychology to the genre; and analyses of recent literary criticism positing that traditional detective fiction contained the seeds of its own subversion. Part II applies a variety of theoretical positions to Agatha Christie and her heirs in the British ratiocinative tradition. A concluding essay positions the genre within the middle-class traditions of the novel since its inception in the eighteenth century. Of interest to all scholars and students of detective fiction and British popular culture.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
From a conference at Hofstra University commemorating the centenary of Agatha Christie's (1891-1976) birth, 17 essays propose a range of solutions to the mysterious inner workings of who-dunits. Among the topics are canonization, the detective character as fictional object and ideal imago, and the politics of secrecy and publicity. Ten essays are devoted to the Grand Dame herself and British works, exploring her narrative games, impossible murderers, the identity-death nexus in "The Dutchess of Malfi" and "The Skull Beneath the Skin", sexuality and motherhood in Dorothy Sayers, and the context of middle- class culture. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

JEROME H. DELAMATER is Professor of Communication at the School of Communication, Hofstra University.

RUTH PRIGOZY is Professor of English at Hofstra University.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
I Theoretical Approaches to the Genre 1
1 Canonization, Modern Literature, and the Detective Story 5
2 Shamus-a-um: Having the Quality of a Classical Detective 17
3 An Ideal Helpmate: The Detective Character as (Fictional) Object and Ideal Imago 29
4 The Politics of Secrecy and Publicity: The Functions of Hidden Stories in Some Recent British Mystery Fiction 39
5 Not So Much "Whodunnit" as "Whoizzit": Margaret Millar's Command of a Metonymic Sub-Genre 51
6 Farody and Detective Fiction 61
7 "The Game's Afoot": Predecessors and Pursuits of a Postmodern Detective Novel 73
II Agatha Christie and British Detective Fiction 85
8 Christie's Narrative Games 87
9 "It Was the Mark of Cain": Agatha Christie and the Murder of the Mystery 103
10 Impossible Murderers: Agatha Christie and the Community of Readers 111
11 "The Daughters of His Manhood": Christie and the Golden Age of Detective Fiction 119
12 "I am Duchess of Malfi still": The Identity-Death Nexus in The Duchess of Malfi and The Skull beneath the Skin 129
13 "An Unsuitable Job" for Anyone: The "Filthy Trade" in P. D. James 137
14 Between Men: How Ruth Rendell Reads for Gender 149
15 Class, Gender, and the Possibilities of Detection in Anne Perry's Victorian Reconstructions 159
16 A Suitable Job for a Woman: Sexuality, Motherhood, and Professionalism in Gaudy Night 169
17 The Bureaucrat as Reader: The Detective Novel in the Context of Middle-Class Culture 177
Index 193
About the Editors and Contributors 199
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