Sherlock Holmes, Crime, And The Anxieties Of Globalization


Journal Article

Before the establishment in the early 1800s of France's Sûreté Nationale and England's Scotland Yard, the detection of crimes was generally regarded as supernatural work, but the rise of modern science allowed mere mortals to systematize and categorize events-and thus to solve crimes. Reducing the amount of crime, however, did not reduce the fear of crime, which actually grew in the late-nineteenth century as the result of globalization and media sensationalism. Literary detectives offered an imaginary cure for an imaginary disease. Sherlock Holmes, the most famous literary detective, retained many of the characteristics that earlier ages had attributed to superhuman "detectives"; a wondrous and a social being, he nonetheless was able to reassure an anxious public that even the most heinous crimes could be solved. His ability to calm the fears of the globalizing Victorian era was an early version of what later became a proliferation of imaginary characters serving similar public functions. © 2011 Copyright Critical Review Foundation.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gillespie, MA; Harpham, JS

Published Date

  • December 1, 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 23 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 449 - 474

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0891-3811

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/08913811.2011.664851

Citation Source

  • Scopus