Detective Fiction & Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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According to the English crime writer P.D. James (1920-) “for a book to be described as detective fiction there must be a central mystery and one that by the end of the book is solved satisfactorily and logically, not by good luck or intuition, but by intelligent deduction from clues honestly if deceptively presented.” (James. 2009: 16). This is traditionally conducted via a detective; a figure deployed within the narrative structure ‘whose occupation is to investigate crimes’ (Oxford. 2006: 202). Therefore detective fiction represents an enigma, a puzzle to be solved through an intriguing series of events and clues presented by the writer to its audience; that are taken on a journey through a process of reasoning, elimination and conclusion to solve a mystery. The narrative formula allows the audience to engage on an exploration of self-discovery as “the mystery’s solution supplies a temporary sense of self through which the reader is offered an apparatus for negotiating the boundaries that define identity.” (McCracken. 1998: 50). Detective fiction can be defined and situated into various different categories; “one is taxonomic…placing it in relation to other types of popular literature…Westerns, science fiction, spy tales and so on. John G. Cawelti’s (Adventure) has grouped these types into larger categories called ‘archetypes’ which are convenient for making an initial distinction between two major kinds of detective fiction, ‘Mystery’ and ‘Adventure.’ (Rzepka. 2005: 9). This raises the question of how detective fiction appeals to past and present audience’s and its position as part of a mass market publication in contemporary society. In order to answer this question it is important to briefly summarise the rise o... ... middle of paper ... ... [Accessed 20th April 2012] Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. (2007) Detective Fiction, Herman, D. Jahn, M. & Ryan, M. [On-line] Available from: [Accessed 19th April 2012] Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate. (2000) The Official Website of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate. [On-line] Available from: [Accessed 20th April 2012] The Sherlock Holmes Company, (2010). [On-line] Available from: [Accessed 21st April 2012]
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