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Detective stories and photography

April 3, 2012

Just wondering about the connections Salzani points to in his article ‘The City as Crime Scene’… (Robertaa Seelinger Trites discusses photography in young adult literature, as have a number of other theorists…)

Salzani writes: “Through its connection with observation, the detective story is related to the optical devices of modernity, especially photography and film. “A Little History of Photography” relates the development of the camera to that of a new, “scientific” mode of observation: it brings things closer for inspection, discovers unknown images, reveals the secrets of reality—in a word, it discloses the optical unconscious of which Benjamin speaks in the “Work of Art” essay. “The camera is getting smaller and smaller,” writes Benjamin, “ever readier to capture fleeting and secret images whose shock effect paralyzes the associative mechanisms in the beholder” (GS, 2.1:385; SW, 2:527). Similarly, the detective follows traces, and the detective story, with its attention to details, brings to light what was hidden.” (175)

I was just wondering, what role is played in fiction (eg (spy or adventure or fantasy?) fiction for young adults) by the minutiae to which detectives and photographs pay attention?

Carlo Salzani (2007) ‘The City as Crime Scene: Walter Benjamin and the Traces of the Detective’ New German Critique 100, Vol.34, No.1, Winter: 165-187

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