By Maurizio Ascari
This e-book takes a glance on the evolution of crime fiction. contemplating 'criminography' as a process of inter-related sub-genres, it explores the connections among modes of literature similar to revenge tragedies, the gothic and anarchist fiction, whereas making an allowance for the impression of pseudo-sciences resembling mesmerism and legal anthropology.
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Extra resources for A Counter-History of Crime Fiction: Supernatural, Gothic, Sensational
70 Probability calculus also enabled the mathematician to ponder the composition of juries and on the majority of votes that is necessary to make a judgement reliable. Thus, science was starting to assert its role as the guiding light of detection and punishment. Unsuprisingly, these decades were also marked by the rise of a new narrative formula, the ‘professional case’. In a recent book, Heather Worthington analysed the serial investigating figures of professionals – such as physicians, barristers and attorneys – who prepared the way for the detective proper, also in relation to the development of the New Metropolitan Police (1829) and the Detective Police (1842).
Thus it is with a paradox that The Atheist’s Tragedy marks the ending of the Renaissance revenge cycle. The text achieves the combined effect of defusing a dangerous social practice and ridiculing atheism, while reasserting the supreme power of providence. 26 A Counter-History of Crime Fiction ‘Providential fictions’ In spite of ‘atheistic’ attacks, the idea of God as the primal revenger was still fertile in the Renaissance period, as is shown by the popular literature of those years, in which murder plays a prominent role.
The earthly and the heavenly systems of values supported one another, insofar as the injunction to leave retribution to God – whose justice was regarded in turn as a form of revenge – agreed with the objectives of sovereigns whose aim was to take the administration of justice into their own hands. 22 A Counter-History of Crime Fiction Despite this close alliance between religious and civil ethics, a popular ethic founded on revenge still survived and in Renaissance England the issue was far from being settled.