American Mystery and Detective Novels: A Reference Guide

American Mystery and Detective Novels: A Reference Guide

American Mystery and Detective Novels: A Reference Guide

American Mystery and Detective Novels: A Reference Guide

Synopsis

Mystery and detective novels are popular fictional genres within Western literature. As such, they provide a wealth of information about popular art and culture. When the genre develops within various cultures, it adopts, and proceeds to dominate, native expressions and imagery. American mystery and detective novels appeared in the late nineteenth century. This reference provides a selective guide to the important criticism of American mystery and detective novels and presents general features of the genre and its historical development over the past two centuries. Critical approaches covered in the volume include story as game, images, myth criticism, formalism and structuralism, psychonalysis, Marxism and more. Comparisons with related genres, such as gothic, suspense, gangster, and postmodern novels, illustrate similarities and differences important to the understanding of the unique components of mystery and detective fiction.

The guide is divided into five major sections: a brief history, related genres, criticism, authors, and reference. This organization accounts for the literary history and types of novels stemming from the mystery and detective genre. A chronology provides a helpful overview of the development and transformation of the genre.

Excerpt

Mystery and detection have been among the most popular fictional genres to emerge in Western literature. The roots of mystery fiction have been traced into antiquity, and arguments have been made for the universality of many of its characteristics. Every Western society has laid claim to early versions of the mystery and to innovative works in its varied past. Likewise, puzzles and narrative riddles necessary to the detective story are found in the folklore of all cultures, and the investigation of wrongdoing and the search for solutions to problems found in detective fiction reaches beyond recorded history. The forms of mystery and detection that such interests take are not universal; they emerge in particular cultures at particular times, pass into and come to dominate appropriate modes of expression, and assimilate imagery found in their parent cultures. American mystery and detective novels emerged in the popular literature of the late nineteenth century and have become a rich source of information about popular art and culture. In recent years a great deal of effort has been put into the study of mystery and detective fiction and related genres, providing many new perspectives on how and when these forms emerged and how they are related to culture.

The modern mystery grew out of the transformation from the alliance of the aristocracy and religion to capitalism and science. While many structural similarities suggest a common origin for gothic and mystery fiction, mysteries clearly reflect the growing influence of rational explanations of . . .

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