‘A Little Art Jargon’

  • Martin Priestman


This chapter will attempt to relate some of the formal concerns of detective writing to those of the early modernism with which its heyday dearly overlapped. What ‘modernism’ consists or consisted of is a large topic: I am perhaps extending it somewhat to include works written in and even shortly before the 1890s by Oscar Wilde, Henry James and Joseph Conrad. While some critics would put the birth of modernism as late as 1910, the ‘aesthetic’ and other movements of the 1890s clearly marked a reformulation of literary theory and practice continued in later more overtly experimental work, and it will be mainly the radical aspects of the writers named that I shall be discussing.1


Early Modernism Detective Story Endless Chain Detective Fiction Conventional Yarn 
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  1. 2.
    See Frank Kermode, Romantic Image (London, 1957), esp. ch. 3, p. 46.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    See Raymond Williams, Culture and Society, 1780–1950 (London, 1958) ch. 2, esp. pp. 32–6.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martin Priestman 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Priestman
    • 1
  1. 1.Roehampton Institute of Higher EducationUK

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