The Origins of the American Detective Story

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McFarland, Jan 24, 2015 - Literary Criticism - 235 pages
Edgar Allan Poe essentially invented the detective story in 1841 with Murders in the Rue Morgue. In the years that followed, however, detective fiction in America saw no significant progress as a literary genre. Much to the dismay of moral crusaders like Anthony Comstock, dime novels and other sensationalist publications satisfied the public's hunger for a yarn. Things changed as the century waned, and eventually the detective was reborn as a figure of American literature. In part these changes were due to a combination of social conditions, including the rise and decline of the police as an institution; the parallel development of private detectives; the birth of the crusading newspaper reporter; and the beginnings of forensic science. Influential, too, was the new role model offered by a wildly popular British import named Sherlock Holmes. Focusing on the late 19th century and early 20th, this volume covers the formative years of American detective fiction. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.
 

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Contents

Preface
1
The First Fifty Years
5
Enter the Great Detective
29
Why Not Cops?
50
The Scientist Hero?
70
New Science and Pseudo Science
91
Journalists and Journalism
111
The Private Eye
132
Women
157
Lawyers and the Law
177
Everybody Else
190
Last Thoughts
210
Works Cited
219
Index
225
Copyright

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About the author (2015)

LeRoy Lad Panek, professor emeritus of English at McDaniel College (and “One of the most readable, prolific, and perceptive academic scholars of mystery fiction”—Mystery Scene), is the author of a number of books about detective fiction. He lives in Westminster, Maryland.

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