The Origins of the American Detective Story
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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