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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
Theoretical Approaches to the Genre
Canonization, Modern Literature, and the Detective Story by John G. Cawelti
Shamus-a-um: Having the Quality of a Classical Detective by Timothy W. Boyd and Carolyn Higbie
An Ideal Helpmate: The Detective Character as (Fictional) Object and Ideal Imago by Timothy R. Prchal
The Politics of Secrecy and Publicity: The Functions of Hidden Stories in Some Recent British Mystery Fiction by Peter Hühn
Not so Much "Whodunnit" as "Whoizzit": Margaret Millar's Command of a Metonymic Sub-Genre by Ann Thompson and John O. Thompson
Parody and Detective Fiction by Janice Mant
"The Game's Afoot": Predecessors and Pursuits of a Postmodern Detective, by Kathleen Belin Owen
Agatha Christie Novels and British Detective Fiction
Christie's Narrative Games by Robert Merrill
"It Was the Mark of Cain": Agatha Christie and the Murder of the Mystery by Robin Woods
Impossible 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 Barker
Between Men: How Ruth Rendell Reads for Gender by Martha Stoddard Holmes
Class, Gender, and the Possibilities of Detection in Anne Perry's Victorian Reconstructions by Iska S. Alter
A Suitable Job for a Woman: Sexuality, Motherhood, and Professionalism in Gaudy Night by Jasmine Y. Hall
The Bureaucrat as Reader: The Detective Novel in the Context of Middle-Class Culture by James E. Bartell
Recommended for all libraries with popular culture collections.