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Title: Morfologia del racconto poliziesco vittoriano: note di analisi a un repertorio di testi
Authors: Micheli, Adriana
Keywords: Invarianti;Londra;Morfologia;Racconti polizieschi vittoriani;Invariants;London;Morphology;Victorian Detective Stories
Issue Date: 5-Apr-2009
Series/Report no.: Tesi di laurea. 1. livello. Classe 3.;
My thesis consists of three parts: the first one is an introduction to my work, and it concerns the methodology of my enquiry; in the second one
I individuated recurrent elements in each of the stories of Victorian Detective Fiction, an Oxford Anthology by Micheal Cox. These elements, which I call invariants, can also be individuated through some tables which composed the second part of my thesis. My enquiry is carried out through the individuation of special themes, which the reader of detective stories can easily find in every detection tale.
I decided to make five different tables in which I showed the presence of invariants in the thirty-one stories in Cox’s edition.
The purpose of this work is to make clear a sequence of elements, which create the structural formula of detective fiction. I singled out, after a
careful reading, several invariants such as the city of London and the house, the murderous woman, the fallen woman and the female detective. I also established what the most important characteristics of the detectives are: he uses logic, he is professional and high-ranking, he uses disguise to solve the case, he is infallible, and sometimes he has an assistant. This is, for example, the case of the couple Sherlock Holmes-Watson.
In the second chapter of my thesis I discussed each of the invariants I established, trying to give also critical and contextual references. All
these recurrent themes have a special place in Victorian society and culture.
At the end of this second part of my work I individuated three stories of Victorian Detective Fiction, an Oxford Anthology which are, according
to me, the most significant ones. I chose “The Accusing Shadow”, “The Long Arm” and “Murder by Proxy”. These three stories portrait the full
range of the invariants, and their applications because in them we can find most of the recurrent themes represented in the table above. I also
identify the formula which is at the basis of the detective stories: criminal antecedents → the detective’s attempt to discover the criminal
→ the solution to the case → final justice. Inside this structure we can find some essential elements, such as the character who always solves
the case, the analysis of the clues, the individuation of a possible criminal plot, and the criminal’s presentation and his/her punishment.
The methodology developed by the Russian linguist Vladimir Ja. Propp in his work, Morfologia della fiaba, had a particular influence on my
thesis: Propp retrieved out thirty-one functions, which represent the
basis of the fairy tales. The actions of the characters in the story are
recurrent elements.
In the third part of my thesis I introduced the summaries of the thirtyone stories in Cox’s edition, and some biographical details concerning
the writers. The latter section is aimed at supporting the idea of a possible intertextual influence among the authors in Cox’s edition.
If we look at the biography of these writers, we can see that each of them published detective stories in the magazines of the Victorian
period. This brought the authors of detective fiction to use recurrent elements which were at the basis of every mystery story. Probably it is trough this way of publishing that the works of detective fiction have similar backgrounds and structure: the writers proposed a combination
of recurrent elements. The magazines (Belgravia, Strand Magazine, Pearson’s Weekly) had a general public attracted by central issues such
as crime and criminality in Victorian society. This process made the
detection novel enjoyable for the Victorians who had to struggle against criminality: the detective’s triumph, who gave the murder or the
criminal over to the police, provoked satisfaction in the conscience of the English society. This put a sort of final seal on the fame of the detective: this figure became central not only for mystery stories, but also for Victorian society.
Tesi di laurea di 1. livello in Lingue e letterature straniere moderne. Corso di laurea in Mediazione Linguistica per le istituzioni, le imprese e il commercio. A. a. 2006/2007. Relatore Prof.ssa Francesca Saggini. Correlatore Dott.ssa Sonia Maria Melchiorre.
Rights: If not otherwise stated, this document is distributed by the Tuscia University Open Archive under a Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution - Noncommercial - Noderivs License (
Appears in Collections:LINGUE - Archivio delle tesi di laurea

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