Modern detective stories

Posted by Helen Thursday, April 20, 2006

Today marks the anniversary of the first publication of what is considered by most people to be the first modern detective story, Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” in Graham’s Lady’s and Gentleman’s Magazine in 1841.

Why should this date be noted on a Conservative History blog? Simply, because in my opinion, the real detective story is a truly conservative form of literature in its main aspects. It is also, very much an Anglospheric form, with other countries and cultures largely imitating the British and American genre.

What happens in a detective story? A crime is committed (usually murder, though that might be the eventual outcome and in the nineteenth century tales that was not necessary) and it is considered to be wrong. If the crime is murder then it is obvious that the accepted order has been upset to the point when the hero or heroine will not rest until it is restored.

Individual life is important; sense of property is important. These are conservative ideas and Anglospheric ideas. How different from all those utopias we have seen in the twentieth century, which merrily discard any sense of order, property, or the absolute importance of human life in order to create a system that appeals to a few people and that result inevitably in slave labour camps.

And, whether victim, criminal or detective, the story is concerned with individuals and their choices. Punishment may not be meted out to the criminal directly (Holmes lets off several people, for instance, for various reasons) but it is clearly defined that actions follow choices made and are, in turn, followed by consequences.


  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. Some rules for detective stories:

    I don't agree with all of these. For example, Agatha Christie successfully broke number 4. But I like number 13. Donna Leon take note...

  3. Anonymous Says:

Powered by Blogger.




Blog Archive