This article takes as its subject a nineteenth-century detective story: S.A. Panov’s Murder in Medveditsa Village (1872). Panov’s work is remarkable amongst its contemporaries for the way in which it interrogates the relative authority of the written and the spoken word in the criminal investigation and, in so doing, foregrounds the role and status that detective fiction assigns to language. The aim of the present article is to discuss the ambiguously nuanced illustration Panov provides of the relative power of written, spoken and non-verbal language in the particular context of the functioning of the law and the pursuit of the ‘truth’, two cornerstones of detective fiction. Language, and especially the written word, is thus shown to play the decisive role in structuring the various networks of authority operating in and around the fictional world.
|Number of pages
|Slavonic and East European Review
|Published - Jan 2011