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Contemporary Experimental Narratives
ENGL 146EN - Fall 2003,  Rita Raley
Tue, 10/14 Reading as Detection

Auster links

- "American Dreams" (Guardian; October 2002)
- "The searcher" (Guardian interview and author page; 1999)
- New York Times audio special ("I've always been interested in books that expose themselves as books"; 1999)

Detective Fiction

"The necessary knowledge is that of what to observe....[detection is] an identification of the reasoner's intellect with that of his opponent"
- Edgar Allen Poe, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue"

“In the true detective story…it is not in the mystery itself that the author seeks to interest the reader, but rather in the successive steps whereby his analytic observer is enabled to solve a problem that might well be dismissed as beyond human elucidation”
- Brander Matthews, “Poe and the Detective Story,” Scribner’s Magazine (September 1907)

“A detective story is a narrative of which the chief interest lies in the palpable processes of detection….Detection does not imply murder, nor the presence of a character called a detective; and this in turn implies its converse, namely that a story containing murders and detectives is not necessarily a detective story—a story of detection”
- Jacques Barzun, 1944 (quoted in R.F. Stewart, 1980)

“The detective novel was born in the margins of literature dealing with ‘causes célèbre.”
- Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks

“The spring of action which, perhaps more than any other, characterised the whole train of my life, was curiosity. It was this that gave me my mechanical turn; I was desirous of tracing the variety of effects which might be produced from given causes. It was this that made me a sort of natural philosopher; I could not rest till I had acquainted myself with the solutions that had been invented for the phenomena of the universe. In fine, this produced in me an invincible attachment to books of narrative and romance. I panted for the unravelling of an adventure with an anxiety, perhaps almost equal to that of the man whose future happiness depends on the issue. I read, I devoured compositions of this sort. They took possession of my soul; and the effects they produced were frequently discernible in my external appearance and my health”
- William Godwin, Caleb Williams (1794)


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