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detective fiction

Preliminary English Extension 1 unit focusing on detective fiction
by

paul flanagan

on 10 February 2013

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Transcript of detective fiction

Detective fiction Genre Sherlock
Holmes American
Hardboiled:
(1920-60) World
War
Two The
Golden
Age
(1920-1950) Post
World
War
Two Film 1828/29 Eugene Francois Vidoq four volumes. Was the Subject of cheap pulp fiction in the mid to late 19th Century in both United Kingdom and America.

Other famous titles and authors include; Les Miserables, Victor Hugo (1862) and Mystery of Edwin Drood, Charles Dickens (1870). With the Detective
Memoir It all
begins
with... However, Edgar Alan Poe wrote the original detective fiction as we know it. Murders at Rue Morgue (1841) introduced the world to Auguste Dupin and established the conventions for the genre. The popularity of detective fiction really begins with Arthur Conan Doyle. The very British Sherlock Holmes series was written between 1887 and 1905. Arguably the best being 'The Hound of Baskervilles.' Characterised by formulaic and predictable settings: English country house, trains, cruise ships and sleepy country villages. Contemporary authors often follow the same patterns and locations. Famous titles and authors include Agatha Chrtistie and Herrcule Peirot series. This is detective fiction with a darker side. There tends to be a reliance on Alpha males and force rather than analysis and guile. The characters inhabit a world of glamorous sleaze found in the darker recesses of American cities. The beginning of first person narrative in detective fiction, eliminating some of the theoretical process found in traditional detective fiction (democratising the genre?). Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler are considered the best Hardboiled writers of this period. Two
Sub-Genres Until World War Two there were two ‘streams’ of detective fiction; the subtler and gentler European and the more violent and darker American. To some extent this division still exists but there has been a blurring of distinctions during the last half of the 20th century. The 1950’s saw the introduction of the ‘police procedural’. Semi-documentary style focused on the police investigation of crimes; coroners, forensic experts, judicial authorities, interrogators This era also introduced the psychological mystery that incorporated the murkier side of humanity and character; the grey moral compass rather than black and white. Contemporary American noir A continuation of Hardboiled.
More diverse in its characterisation and thematic treatment, with female private detectives, black detective protagonists, psychopathic serial killers, regional settings and postmodern reworking of sexual obsession. Investigators are not always the stereotypical loners; they create a sense of belonging with other outsiders, non-white characters, strong women, outcasts of all kinds. In a sense the hard-headed Alpha male detective type is softened. Contemporary British: Heavily influenced by American hardboiled and possibly an attempt to provide an alternative to the heritage of The Golden Era. Often incorporates dark humour and a critique of some part of the contemporary social and political order. Again, as with American detective fiction, there is a strong regional focus. British Noir or ‘Brit Grit’ offers much the same as contemporary American noir in characterisation, structure and themes but adapts it to a genuine British context. The popularity of detective fiction meant it was inevitable that film makers would adapt the genre for the screen. Originally, film makers took their cues from the Sherlock Holmes style of intellectual observer familiar to the ‘Golden Age’ of detective fiction. In the 1930s Hollywood quickly remodelled the protagonist on the Hardboiled ideal of American masculinity, the hard hitting, and hard bitten detective cleaning the scum off the streets. Often called ‘film noir’, The Maltese Falcon (1941) is considered a classic. Police procedurals would also become an essential part of film culture but it was detective as action hero that the big screen really loved. Lethal Weapon (1987) and Die Hard (1988) are obvious examples and the furthest from what Poe would recognise as detective fiction.
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