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ELT 45 : 2 2002 "school," positioned him as a model for the younger independent writers and thinkers of a Europe that would rise from the ashes of war. In short, Human Shows is a wonderfully rich collection of studies that reveal many new facets of Hardy's art, life, influences, admirers, and detractors . Professor Millgate must be grateful and honored to have inspired its creation. Seth Lachterman Southfield, Massachusetts The Literary Detective Ronald R. Thomas. Detective Fiction and the Rise of Forensic Science. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. xviii + 341 pp. $59.95 THE LITERARY DETECTIVE first appeared in Poe's short stories and slightly later in novels like Dickens's Bleak House, then evolved into the protagonist of one of the most popular genres of the nineteenth century . At approximately the same time that the detective story was increasing in popularity, the science of forensics was developing to assist the police in the positive identification of a criminal. Devices to measure the physical condition and responses of the human body were invented, and the lie detector, the police photo (mug shot) and the fingerprint allowed forensic scientists to read that body as if it were a text. The nineteenth-century literary detective was an authority figure who could unravel the unknown and discover the truth. He gained much of his authority from his knowledge of this new science. Throughout his discussion Thomas emphasizes that the detective's purpose was to read the text of the body: "the body betrays the truth about the criminal in the form of an automatic anatomical writing that is legible to the eyes of the trained expert." The detective could also read the text of the body to discover information about his client's personality and motives. The methods of the literary detective, Thomas finds, were inextricably intermingled with the forensic tools created and used during the nineteenth century, the development of each affecting the other. He organizes his study into three sections, devoted to the lie detector, the mug shot and the fingerprint—and introduces each section with a chapter on the creation and history of the tool. Since the inventors of these devices were often influenced by faulty nineteenth-century anthropological theories of race, gender and criminal types, information gained from their use was frequently colored by political and cultural opinions, especially fears of the foreign intruder and concerns about the changing place of women, 224 book reviews anxieties that troubled nineteenth-century British and American society deeply. The literary detectives' readings of the text of the body were similarly influenced by the defects in nineteenth-century forensic science . As a result, "Through these detectives and their devices," says Thomas , "the mysteries of individual anatomy and personal identity come to represent the general condition of the body politic itself." In a series of essays on works by Poe, Dickens, Collins, Hawthorne, Doyle, Twain and Conrad, Thomas demonstrates in specific detail how the methods of literary detectives, in both mainstream and genre literature , are linked with the tools used in forensic science. Moreover, particular detective stories reflect the societal and political concerns of a particular nation at a given moment in time. In Poe's "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" the detective reveals that the murderer is foreign and an intruder into the larger body of American society. The legal and medical documents used in CoUins's The Woman in White for purposes of identity offer information similar to that provided by a lie detector as it reads a human body; the handling and interpretation of these documents is also affected because the body is that of a woman. A massproduced print of a portrait in Dickens's Bleak House functions much like a mug shot; moreover, the detective has a camera-like mind. A photograph is the means of identification in Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables. Fingerprints confirm both personal identity and race in Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson, and raise the issue of slavery. To round out his discussion, at the end of each section Thomas examines twentiethcentury detective novels. In works by Christie, Hammett and Chandler, the private detectives abandon the use of scientific expertise...


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pp. 224-227
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Will Be Archived 2021
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