Detective Fiction

(2014 words)
  • Chris Willis

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume 12: Global Voices, Global Histories: World Literatures and Cultures.

Contrary to popular myth, detective fiction did not begin with Sherlock Holmes. The roots of this highly popular genre can be traced back to biblical times. In her masterly introduction to the 1928 anthology Great Short Stories of Detection, Mystery and Horror, Dorothy L. Sayers cites early examples of detection in the Bible and Aesop’s fables. The eponymous hero of the Biblical Book of Daniel exposes a religious fraud by tracking the culprits’ footprints, and in the tale of Susanna and the Elders, he uncovers a conspiracy by questioning two witnesses separately to reveal contradictions in their evidence. Aesop’s fox decides not to enter a hungry lion’s cave when he sees that there are many animal footprints …

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Willis, Chris. "Detective Fiction". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 October 2002
[, accessed 25 November 2015.]

Related Groups

  1. Novelistic Genres
  2. Literary Genres and Modes
  3. Crime, Detective, Spy/ Thriller Fiction