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The Letter of the law: literacy and orality in S. A. Panov's Murder in Medveditsa Village

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Abstract

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.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalSlavonic and East European Review
Volume89
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011

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