Mayhem and Murder: Narative and Moral Issues in the Detective Story

By Heta Pyrhonen

© 1999

The detective story centres on unravelling two questions: whodunit? and who is guilty? In Murder and Mayhem, Heta Pyrhönen examines how these questions organize and pattern the genre's formal and thematic structures. Beginning with a semiotic reading of the detective as both code-breaker and sign-reader, Pyrhönen's theoretical analysis then situates the reader and the detective in parallel worlds - both use the detective genre's typical motifs in solving the crime, but do not employ the same narrative interpretations to do so. This difference is examined with the help of the familiar game analogy: while the fictional world of the criminal functions as the detective's antagonist, readers see both the detective and the criminal as the fictional masks behind which their own adversary, the author, is hiding. The reading of detective stories as complex interpretative games reveals how the genre engages the reader's formal imagination and moral judgment.

Discussing a range of detective stories from works by Conan Doyle and Chesterton to Borges and Rendell, and drawing on the work of major critics - including Dennis Porter, Umberto Eco, John T. Irwin, and Slavoj Žižek - Pyrhönen offers a unique, sophisticated, and engagingly lucid analysis of a complex genre.

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Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Studies in Semiotics and Communication
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.9in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP001153

  • PUBLISHED NOV 1999

    From: $31.46

    Regular Price: $41.95

    ISBN 9780802082671
  • PUBLISHED NOV 1999

    From: $75.00

    Regular Price: $100.00

Quick Overview

Both detective and reader attempt to solve the crimes in detective novels, relying on the same motifs but employing different narrative interpretations to do so. A unique and lucid examination of a complex genre.

Mayhem and Murder: Narative and Moral Issues in the Detective Story

By Heta Pyrhonen

© 1999

The detective story centres on unravelling two questions: whodunit? and who is guilty? In Murder and Mayhem, Heta Pyrhönen examines how these questions organize and pattern the genre's formal and thematic structures. Beginning with a semiotic reading of the detective as both code-breaker and sign-reader, Pyrhönen's theoretical analysis then situates the reader and the detective in parallel worlds - both use the detective genre's typical motifs in solving the crime, but do not employ the same narrative interpretations to do so. This difference is examined with the help of the familiar game analogy: while the fictional world of the criminal functions as the detective's antagonist, readers see both the detective and the criminal as the fictional masks behind which their own adversary, the author, is hiding. The reading of detective stories as complex interpretative games reveals how the genre engages the reader's formal imagination and moral judgment.

Discussing a range of detective stories from works by Conan Doyle and Chesterton to Borges and Rendell, and drawing on the work of major critics - including Dennis Porter, Umberto Eco, John T. Irwin, and Slavoj Žižek - Pyrhönen offers a unique, sophisticated, and engagingly lucid analysis of a complex genre.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Studies in Semiotics and Communication
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.9in x 9.0in
  • Author Information

    Heta Pyrhoenen is Associate Professor, Department of Comparative Literature, University of Helsinki.

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