Chinese court case fiction: A corrective for the history of crime fiction

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    Western history of crime fiction usually designates Edgar Allan Poe as the undisputed father of the detective story. Crime fiction is, hence, generally associated with incipient modernity and modern societies and cityscapes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle even asks: Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it? The usual answer is that crime fiction, in fact, was invented by Poe, but another counter-view is that China – at that point – had had a long narrative tradition for stories about crime and detection. The socalled gongan genre – court case fiction – was probably established as early as the 6th Century AD, whereas the first substantial evidence of the tradition is from 13th Century and the first Chinese crime fiction novels were written during the 17th Century. This article is, then, a corrective for the international history of crime fiction based on numerous sinological sources introducing a revised introduction of crime fiction on the world’s literary scene. So to answer Doyle’s question about crime fiction before Poe: Crime fiction may have been in China.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalNordic Journal of Media Studies
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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