The Scientific Investigations of Poe, Dickens and Doyle
In this innovative book, now available in paperback for the first time, Frank investigates an intertextual exchange between nineteenth-century historical disciplines (philology, cosmology, geology archaeology and Darwin's theories of evolutionary biology) and the detective fictions of Poe, Dickens, and Doyle.
This study, now available in paperback, is an original contribution to nineteenth-century literary and cultural studies in its methodology, its subject matter, and its vision of detective fiction. It engages in a form of intellectual palaeontology, tracing the genealogy of a genre through a model based on the Origin of Species read as a form of postmodern historiography. It places detective fiction within the context of popular scientific texts by John Pringle Nichol, Robert Chambers, Winwood Reade, and John Tyndall, as well as the writings of Charles Lyell, Charles Darwin and Thomas Huxley. Frank does not treat detective fiction only as the symptom of a prevailing ideology, but investigates it as a genre promoting a secular worldview in a time of competing visions of the universe and the human situation. Such an approach necessitates close readings of scientific and literary texts that, through explicit and implicit allusions to cosmology, philology, geology, paleontology, archaeology, and evolutionary biology, reveal their ultimate seriousness and heterodoxy.
Acknowledgements Introduction: Contexts PART I: EDGAR ALLAN POE 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue': Edgar Allan Poe's Evolutionary Reverie 'The Gold-Bug', Hieroglyphics, and the Historical Imagination PART II: CHARLES DICKENS Bleak House, the Nebular Hypothesis, and a Crisis in Narrative News from the Dead: Archaeology, Detection and The Mystery of Edwin Drood PART III: ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE Sherlock Holmes and 'The Book of Life' Reading the Gravel Page: Lyell, Darwin and Doyle The Hound of the Baskervilles, the Man on the Tor, and a Metaphor for the Mind Epilogue: 'A Retrospection' Notes Index