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Theory and Practice of Classic Detective Fiction

by Jerome H. Delamater, ed., Ruth rigozy


Essays that explore major theoretical viewpoints of the detective fiction genre and then apply those theories to the novels of Agatha Christie and her heirs in the British ratiocinative tradition.

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October 1997


Pages 224
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Popular Culture/General
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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.

Table of Contents

PrefaceTheoretical Approaches to the GenreCanonization, Modern Literature, and the Detective Story by John G. CaweltiShamus-a-um: Having the Quality of a Classical Detective by Timothy W. Boyd and Carolyn HigbieAn Ideal Helpmate: The Detective Character as (Fictional) Object and Ideal Imago by Timothy R. PrchalThe Politics of Secrecy and Publicity: The Functions of Hidden Stories in Some Recent British Mystery Fiction by Peter HühnNot so Much "Whodunnit" as "Whoizzit": Margaret Millar's Command of a Metonymic Sub-Genre by Ann Thompson and John O. ThompsonParody and Detective Fiction by Janice Mant"The Game's Afoot": Predecessors and Pursuits of a Postmodern Detective, by Kathleen Belin OwenAgatha Christie Novels and British Detective FictionChristie's Narrative Games by Robert Merrill"It Was the Mark of Cain": Agatha Christie and the Murder of the Mystery by Robin WoodsImpossible Murderers: Agatha Christie and the Community of Readers by Ina Rae Hark"The Daughters of His Manhood": Christie and the Golden Age of Detective Fiction by Mary Anne Ackershoek"I Am Duchess of Malfi Still": The Identity-Death Nexus in The Duchess of Malfi and The Skull Beneath the Skin by Carolyn F. Scott"An Unsuitable Job" for Anyone: The "Filthy Trade" in P. D. James by Marnie Jones and Barbara BarkerBetween Men: How Ruth Rendell Reads for Gender by Martha Stoddard HolmesClass, Gender, and the Possibilities of Detection in Anne Perry's Victorian Reconstructions by Iska S. AlterA Suitable Job for a Woman: Sexuality, Motherhood, and Professionalism in Gaudy Night by Jasmine Y. HallThe Bureaucrat as Reader: The Detective Novel in the Context of Middle-Class Culture by James E. BartellIndex



Recommended for all libraries with popular culture collections.—Choice

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