Victorian Tales of Mystery and Detection: An Oxford Anthology
Oxford University Press, 1992 - Detective and mystery stories - 578 pages
The Victorian era saw the first great flowering of the detective story. Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle, J.S. LeFanu, and a host of others pioneered a genre of fiction that remains among the most popular today. Now, in Victorian Tales of Mystery and Detection, Michael Cox provides a sampling of the finest detective stories written from the 1840s to the early twentieth century.
Here readers will find a vast array of detectives and villains, and a multitude of murder methods and motives. In Edgar Allen Poe's "The Purloined Letter," the identity of the robber is known from the start--it is the surreptitious retrieval of the letter that is the mystery. In M. McDonnell Bodkin's "Murder By Proxy," a gentleman is shot in the head at close range, by a murderer who was not even in the same room. Charles Dickens's "Hunted Down" portrays a murderer who was slowly poisoning his very own nieces for their insurance money. And in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Lost Special," a train and its passengers vanish in thin air. In addition, Cox (who is rapidly becoming one of the foremost experts on Victorian popular fiction) arranges the stories in chronological order so that readers can follow the genre as it develops over time. For instance, in Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" we see an example of the many Sherlock Holmes escapades that popularized and came to typify the detective story for the Victorian public. And in the progression of the stories, we witness the evolution of the investigator from Poe's brilliant and eccentric Chevalier C. August Dupin, to Doyle's scientific Sherlock Holmes, into Robert Barr's cavalier Valmont (a possible model for Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot).
Including well-known stories by famous authors, as well as little known gems reprinted for the first time, Victorian Tales of Mystery and Detection not only offers hours of enjoyment and escape for all lovers of crime fiction, but also brings alive the society, language, the sights, and sounds of the Victorian age.
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The Purloined Letter 1845 edgar AllAN POE l
Hunted Down 1859 charles d1ckens
Levisons Victim 1870 mary El1zabeth braddon
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