Detective Fiction (2012 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Chris Willis (London Metropolitan University)
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  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume : WORLD HISTORY AND IDEAS: A CROSS-CULTURAL VOLUME.


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 going into …

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Willis, Chris. "Detective Fiction". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 October 2002
[, accessed 20 April 2018.]

Related Groups

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

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