Lecture 17 Part I Subject of Detection

“I see it,
I deduce it.”
Subject of detection
Subject to inspection
The case of
Sherlock Holmes
April 30, 2014 SU
Serhat Uyurkulak
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)
Studied medicine at
the University of Edinburgh
between 1876-81
Modeled Sherlock Holmes
on his university teacher Joseph Bell:
"It is most certainly to you that
I owe Sherlock Holmes. Round
the center of deduction
and inference and observation
which I have heard you inculcate
I have tried to build up a man.”
Was a skilled medical diagnostician
The Sherlock Holmes “Canon”
1887, A Study in Scarlet
1890, The Sign of the Four
1892, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (a collection of stories published in
the Strand Magazine, including “A Scandal in Bohemia”)
1894, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (short stories, including
“The Adventure of the Final Problem”)
1902, The Hound of the Baskervilles
1905, The Return of Sherlock Holmes (short stories)
1917, His Last Bow (short stories)
1927, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (short stories)
Detective Fiction as an “Urban” Literary Genre
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49)
(Amateur Detective Auguste Dupin. Method: ratiocination)
1841, “The murders in the Rue Morgue” (Paris, murders of two women)
1843, “The Mystery of Marie Roget” (Paris, a dead body found in
the River Seine)
1845, “The Purloined Letter” (Paris, the Police ask Dupin to help find
a letter stolen from a lady by a minister)
“You remind me of Edgar Allan Poe's Dupin. I had no idea that
such individuals did exist out of stories.” (Dr. Watson, “A Study in Scarlet”)
"So I got the idea for Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock is utterly inhuman,
no heart, but with a beautifully logical intellect. I know nothing about
detective work, but theoretically it has always had a great charm for me.
The best detective in fiction is E. A. Poe's Mons. D.”
(Doyle, Boston Herald 1893?)
Experience of Modernity and Urbanization
“The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the
instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production,
and with them the whole relations of society. [R]evolutionizing of
production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions,
everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois
epoch from all earlier ones.
The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns.
It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban
population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a
considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life.”
From The Communist Manifesto (1848)
(“whole populations conjured out of the ground”)
 Demographic movements from the countryside + demographic
diversification inside the metropolis
Friedrich Engels on London
“A town, such as London, where a man may wander for hours
together without reaching the beginning of the end, without
meeting the slightest hint which could lead to the inference that
there is open country within reach, is a strange thing. This colossal
centralization, this heaping together of two and a half millions of
human beings at one point, has multiplied the power of this two
and a half millions a hundredfold; has raised London to the
commercial capital of the world, created the giant docks and
assembled the thousand vessels that continually cover the Thames.
I know nothing more imposing than the view which the Thames
offers during the ascent from the sea to London Bridge.”
From Condition of the Working Class in England (1845)
F. Engels continued: Urban Isolation and Alienation
“After roaming the streets of the capital a day or two, making headway
with difficulty through the human turmoil and the endless lines of vehicles,
after visiting the slums of the metropolis, one realizes (…) [t]he very
turmoil of the streets has something repulsive, something against which
human nature rebels. The hundreds of thousands of all classes and ranks
crowding past each other, are they not all human beings with the same
qualities and powers, and with the same interest in being happy? (…)
[T]hey crowd by one another as though they had nothing in common,
nothing to do with one another, and their only agreement is the tacit one,
that each keep to his own side of the pavement, so as not to delay the
opposing streams of the crowd, while it occurs to no man to honor
another with so much as a glance. The brutal indifference, the unfeeling
isolation of each in his private interest, becomes the more repellent and
offensive, the more these individuals are crowded together, within a
limited space. (…) The dissolution of mankind into monads, of which each
one has a separate principle, the world of atoms, is here carried out to its
utmost extremes.”
Social contract no longer meaningful or able to hold people together?
Economy and Metropolitan Attitude to Life and Others
“The metropolis has always been the seat of money economy
because of the many-sidedness and concentration of commercial
activity have given the medium of exchange an importance which
it could not have acquired in the commercial aspects of rural life. (…)
Money is concerned only with what is common to all, i.e. with
the exchange value which reduces all quality and individuality to
a purely quantitative level. All emotional relationships between
persons rest on their individuality, whereas intellectual relationships
deal with persons as with numbers, that is, as with elements, which,
in themselves, are indifferent, but which are of interest only insofar as
they offer something objectively perceivable.”
From “The Metropolis and Mental Life”, Georg Simmel (1903)
Reduction of all quality and individuality to numbers (quantifiable and
objectifiable aspects) One thing or person can substitute/replace another
idefinitely, infinitely: ANONIMITY of the metropolitan type, of the objects
Policing the City, Urban Masses, “Classes and Ranks”
Eugene François Vidocq (1775-1857)
Ex-criminal turned into a law enforcer – Authorized by Napoleon Bonaparte
to form the National Security Force (Paris Police Department) in 1813
Founder of modern criminology – First private (consulting) detective
Vidocq is invited to Britain in 1829
to help create the Metropolitan
Police Service in London
Police reports and stories of urban crime investigated by Scotland Yard become
very popular and highly demanded  Crime becomes part of popular
culture and imagination  Adding “safe” terror and excitement to the life of
reading public AND restoring belief in the necessity of more “law and order”
“Dull Routine” of Modernity vs. Crime as Riddle or Mystery
"My mind," he said, "rebels
at stagnation. Give me problems,
give me work, give me the most
abstruse cryptogram or the most
intricate analysis, and I am in
my own proper atmosphere.
I can dispense then with artificial
stimulants. But I abhor the dull
routine of existence. I crave
for mental exaltation. That is
why I have chosen my own
particular profession –or rather
created it, for I am the only one
in the world."
From The Sign of Four
That’s also why Poe and Doyle invented the genre, and why we read or watch
crime stories, detective fiction, mystery novels, horror films, etc.
Sherlock Holmes’ London: The New “Jungle”
the unemployed
South of the Thames
“Peeping Tom” of London?
“My dear fellow," said Sherlock Holmes
as we sat on either side of the fire in his
lodgings at Baker Street, "life is infinitely
stranger than anything which the mind
of man could invent. (…) If we could fly
out of that window hand in hand, hover
over this great city, gently remove the
roofs, and peep in at the queer things
which are going on, the strange
coincidences, the plannings, the
cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of
events, working through generation,
and leading to the most outre results, it
would make all fiction with its
conventionalities and foreseen
conclusions most stale and
From “A Case of Identity”
Illustration by Sidney Paget, Strand Magazine
On Holmes’ London:
Atlas of the European Novel, Franco Moretti (p.136)
“Unlike Doyle’s first
two novels, which
take place mostly south
of the Thames (…)
The short stories published
in the Strand Magazine
from 1891 onwards
focus almost entirely
on the West End and
the City.
As the early novels were
not very successful, whereas
the short stories were
immediately extremely
popular, Holmes may well
owe his success to this
shift in location, with which
Doyle ‘guessed’ the right
space for detective fiction.”
South of the Thames and the East End: Spaces of “Violent” Crimes
Whitechapel murders: Jack the Ripper’s murder sites, late 1888, London
violent crimes
from the
of the City
Jack the Ripper:
The Victorian
public sensation
Whitechapel Murders: “Annie Chapman, Before and After…”
“East End Horrors: When Will They Cease?”
“A Terrible Case of Throat Cutting”
Police Force after Jack the Ripper: “When will the murderer be…?”
“Police Constable Watkins signalling for assistance”
Public/Police Detective Fighting Crime (!?)
in the
“public eye”
Failure to
“see and
deduce it”
Jack the Rippers: Where Do “They” Come From?
“There floats a phantom
on the slum's foul air,
Shaping, to eyes which have
the gift of seeing,
Into the Spectre of that
loathly lair.
Face it—for vain is fleeing!
Red-handed, ruthless, furtive,
'Tis murderous Crime—
the Nemesis of Neglect!”
Social neglect, devastation,
poverty, class inequalities
as sources of crime
Something that detective
fiction isn’t interested to depict
John Tenniel, Punch Magazine,”The Nemesis of Neglect” (Sep. 29, 1888)

similar documents