Wilde, Liam J. (2018) Interrogating the Crimes of the Twentieth Century Detecting and Policing in Perec and His Peers. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Detective fiction exerts a complex influence on the perception of law enforcement, its place within the community and crime writ large. The private detective is neither a civilian nor part of the police; they sit on the fringe of law enforcement. Meanwhile the police officer invokes an image of a blue uniform and a proposed function: solving crimes and providing justice for all. However, many officers do not wear uniforms and can be dysfunctional or amoral in their practices. Fictionalized detective stories inform the public’s understanding of confirmations of guilt as a result of investigation. Variables such as evidence, resources and the power of police authority can be manipulated and directed to serve political ends. The central text which this thesis will use to illustrate such ideas will be Georges Perec’s 1969 novel La disparation, notable for its contestation of the detective as a force for legitimizing truth claims in the context of investigation. The novel is set against the backdrop of France’s May ’68 protests, providing grounding for both its anarchic tone and its radically cynical view of governmental authority. Indeed, it is my assertion Perec is a unique brand of crime writer because his work consistently philosophises how truth operates in detective fiction on both a narratological (to be explored in Chapter 2) and political level (Chapter 3) with specific reference to genocide, ethnic cleansing and the fascism that so often leads to them. I have also used several other texts which exhibit similar characteristics and views where relevant. These are Perec’s titular ‘peers’. Such examples include Didier Daeninckx’s novel Murder in Memoriam, Gilbert Adair’s Death of the Author and Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation as well as several other postmodern detective texts which have been influenced by, or have paved the way, to Perec’s work.

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