The Centrality of Crime Fiction in American Literary Culture: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Centrality of Crime Fiction in American Literary Culture

1st Edition

Edited by Alfred Bendixen, Olivia Carr Edenfield


304 pages

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Hardback: 9781138680470
pub: 2017-06-15
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315563886
pub: 2017-06-26
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This collection of essays by leading scholars insists on a larger recognition of the importance and diversity of crime fiction in U.S. literary traditions. Instead of presenting the genre as the property of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, this book maps a larger territory which includes the domains of Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Flannery O’Connor, Cormac McCarthy and other masters of fiction.The essays in this collection pay detailed attention to both the genuine artistry and the cultural significance of crime fiction in the United States. It emphasizes American crime fiction’s inquiry into the nature of democratic society and its exploration of injustices based on race, class, and/or gender that are specifically located in the details of American experience.Each of these essays exists on its own terms as a significant contribution to scholarship, but when brought together, the collection becomes larger than the sum of its pieces in detailing the centrality of crime fiction to American literature. This is a crucial book for all students of American fiction as well as for those interested in the literary treatment of crime and detection, and also has broad appeal for classes in American popular culture and American modernism.


"The collection would appeal to those specialising in American popular culture or American modernism. It would be of particular interest for those working on Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, and the postmodern author Cormac McCarthy or those working on the masters of the crime fiction genre such as Hammett, Chandler, Macdonald, and Elmore Leonard. The collection as a whole expresses the importance of crime within American literature and the imaginary line dividing genre and literary fiction."

- Anna Kirsch, The International Crime Fiction Association

Table of Contents



List of Figures

Introduction: Re-searching the Premises: The Centrality of Crime Fiction in American Literary Culture, Alfred Bendixen


1 Crime and Detection in Mark Twain

Peter Messent

2 Lizzie Borden, Spinster on Trial: Journalism, Literature, and the Borden Trial

Karen Roggenkamp

3 Dreiser, Dey, and Dime-Novel Crime: The Case of Nick Carter

Nathaniel Williams

Modernist Crime:

4 The Gatsby Murder Case: F. Scott Fitzgerald, S. S. Van Dine, and Analytic Detective Fiction in the 1920s

Kirk Curnutt

5 Preservation and Promotion: Ellery Queen, Magazine Publishing, and the Marketing of Detective Fiction

Matthew Levay

6 Diversions of Furniture and Signature Styles: Hammett, Chandler, Macdonald

Lee Clark Mitchell

7 Faulkner and the Criminality of Modernity

Deborah Clarke

8 Fatal Eyeballing: Sex, Violence and Intimate Voyeurism in Richard Wright’s Native Son Andrew Warnes

Crime After Modernism:

9 Murderous Neglect in Flannery O’Connor’s Fiction

Marshall Bruce Gentry

10 Remorse and Redemption: The Crime Fiction of Andre Dubus

Olivia Carr Edenfield

11 On Manliness and a Personal Sense of Fitness for Citizenship: Chester Himes and Telling Details in Clothing

Norlisha F. Crawford

12 Copy That: Joseph Nazel and African American Crime Narrative in the 1970s

Kinohi Nishikawa

13 "Swarming Like an Army": Odyssean Warcraft in Elmore Leonard’s Early Crime Novels" Charles J. Rzepka

14 Cormac McCarthy’s Mosaic of Crime and Evil

Allen Josephs

Notes on Contributors


About the Editors

Alfred Bendixen is Lecturer in the Departments of English, Gender and Sexuality Studies, American Studies, and First Year Program at Princeton University, USA.

Olivia Carr Edenfield is Professor in the Department of Literature and Philosophy at Georgia Southern University, USA.

About the Series

Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature

This series is our home for cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections. Taking an interdisciplinary approach to literary studies, it engages with topics such as philosophy, science, race, gender, film, music, and ecology. Titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / American / General
LITERARY CRITICISM / Mystery & Detective