The birth of the detective story
The beginning of the detective story can be traced back to Poe who with his stories:
• The murders in the Rue Morgue;
• The mystery of Marie Roget;
• The purloined letter.
He introduced the detective Monsieur Auguste Dupin. He is noble and his method of investigation is based on deduction.
Poe created a formula which was adopted by later writers. This formula included some constant element:
• An urban setting;
• A mysterious crime;
• The professional detective;
• Sometimes there is the detective’s companion, who is slower and can be the narrator of the story;
• A policeman who is usually unintelligent and unimaginative.
• The investigation starts after a crime and gradually brings the clues with which solve the case;
• The importance of reasoning and psychological analysis;
• The opposition between “to be” and “to seem”.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
It was in the second half of the 19th century that detective story became a popular genre.
The public was influence by :
- the industrialization;
- The birth of slums where there is poverty and crime;
- The reorganization of police forces;
- The scientific progress;
- The spread of the scientific method based on observation.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used Poe’s elements to create Sherlock Holmes, the famous “armchair detective” who feels superior thank to his intellectual skills and than to his physical strength.
Doyle created in his story a plot very complex. Sometimes He introduced exotic elements, like the Indian snake in The adventure of the Speckled Band; He allowed Holmes to make moral remarks about the final result of his investigation.
The armchair detective
S. Holmes lives at 221/b Baker Street, in London. He is usually calm, detached, ironical; He gets up early in the morning, He wear his dressing gown when he stay at home; He plays the violin, He smokes the pipe. Sometimes He takes drugs
when He is investigating He becomes : tense, energetic, alert.
His method of investigation is based on his power of deduction:
- He usually collects information and makes his first hypothesis;
- Then He investigates to find proof to his hypothesis;
- Finally He organizes an experiment which is always successful and leads to the solution of the case.