• Current opened records

  • Another Crime, An Other Criminal: detecting the criminal Other in The Sign of Four and Red Dragon

Winner Category:
  • A comparison of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four, now infamous for its derogatory depiction of Tonga, an Andaman Islander in London, with Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon proposes an understanding of crime fiction as an articulation of the complex psychoanalytic relationship between self and Other and the unspoken, unnerving identification on which this relationship rests. Moving from a nineteenth century investment in physical anomalies and foreign bodies as symbols of criminality to the fascination with insanity and the psyche that gripped the Twentieth Century, the juxtaposition of the two novels charts a shift in focus from threateningly visible to insidiously invisible Other. Through Red Dragon in particular the recognition of this invisible Other, that is the serial killer, who may also be your next door neighbour, who can appear as normal and as charming as Hannibal Lector, also becomes a recognition of the Other within, a monstrosity, not only internalised by society, but created and sustained by it. As such, the relationship between detective and criminal, variously manifest as Sherlock Holmes and Tonga or Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter, is brought to the fore and recast as a porous boundary between self and Other, sane and insane, deviant and socialized that recasts Conan Doyle’s colonial representation of the restoration of a conservative status quo as a necessary and necessarily incomplete merging of the self and Other.