Metaphysics and Postmodern Anti-Detective Fiction Dissertation or Thesis by DrFaustus

Metaphysics and Postmodern Anti-Detective Fiction
An analysis of postmodern mystery novels in the light of three fictional works -- Auster's "City of Glass", Haddon's "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" and Borges' "Death and the Compass".
# 128356 | 13,451 words | 33 sources | APA | 2010 | IN
Published on Jul 14, 2010 in Literature (English) , Literature (Comparative Literature) , Literature (General)

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This paper aims at analyzing the 'metaphysical detective story', a genre that twists the conventions of the conventional Holmesian detective stories and slyly leaves philosophical questionings of 'reality', 'truth', 'self' and 'identity' in the texture of the text. The writer observes curious results when postmodernism with its characteristic indeterminacy and chaos is applied on to a genre that hinges on certainty and order. This genre is dissected in the context of three texts - Paul Auster's "City of Glass", Mark Haddon's "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" and Jorge Louis Borge's "Death and the Compass" where the detectives Daniel Quinn, Christopher Boone and Erik Lonnrot are caught in a perilous world and the case as well as the story is left unfinished. The mystery is never solved and the detective becomes a failure. The paper concludes that these queer consequences raise deeper philosophical questions and raises the detective genre, as a whole, from its 'popular' image to an 'avant garde' form of art.


Chapter 1 - "A Cross-Section of the Metaphysical Detective Story". Chapter 2 - "Shattering Expectations: Paul Auster's City of Glass". Chapter 3 - "The Curious Case of a Doomed Detective:An analysis of Mark Haddon's "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time". Chapter 4 - Pursuing the Pursuer: Jorge Louis Borges' "Death and the Compass"

From the Paper:

"This new form of detective fiction is extremely self-reflexive where the author constantly reminds the reader of the construction and physicality of the text itself. It is metalinguistic in the sense that the text often critiques the linguistic medium that it employs and undermines its worth showing it incapable of fully constructing and conveying reality. This postmodern genre involves not only the detective figuring out what his purpose is in the text, but what his relationship to the author of the text is. Fictional boundaries are often transgressed and there is constant intermixing of the real with the fictional. The real world merges into the fictional world to the extent of being almost undistinguishable from one another, where, at times, the author himself (and other real life characters) enters into the fabric of the text and assumes the role of a character. At times he himself becomes one of the suspects. He creates a world where identities are not fixed. The detective fails to identify individuals, misinterprets texts and gets confounded and defeated at every step. In this kind of story, one character may have multiple identities and names."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Aguirre, Manuel (1998). "Paul Auster's City of Glass, Jose Maria Conget's Todas Las Mujeras and European Postmodernism". Neophilologus, Vol. 82, No. 2, (April 1998), pp. 169-180. Springer Netherlands.
  • Alford, Steven E. (1995). "Mirrors of Madness: Paul Auster's the New York Trilogy". Critique, Vol. 37, 1995. <>
  • Arrojo, Rosemary (2002). Translation and Power ed. Maria Tymoczko and Edwin Gentzler. Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press. 69-73.
  • Auster, Paul (1999). The New York Trilogy. London: Faber and Faber.
  • Berger, James (2007). "Alterity and Autism: Mark Haddon's Curious Incident in the Neurological Spectrum". In Autism and Representation, ed. Mark Osteen. London: Routledge.

Cite this Dissertation or Thesis:

APA Format

Metaphysics and Postmodern Anti-Detective Fiction (2010, July 14) Retrieved January 27, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Metaphysics and Postmodern Anti-Detective Fiction" 14 July 2010. Web. 27 January. 2023. <>