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Title: Caleb Carr: Running Away from the Darkness
Authors: Tallack, Douglas
First Published: 2000
Publisher: Bowling Green State University Popular Press
Citation: The Detective as Historian: History and Art in Historical Crime Fiction / edited by Ray B. Browne, Lawrence A. Kreiser Jr., preface by Robin W. Winks; pp. 251-
ISBN: 0879728159
Type: Book chapter
Description: The issue of historical authenticity within a fictional genre—which is one of the concerns of the present collection of essays—has two inter- related dimensions in Caleb Carr's work. In two best-selling novels, The Alienist (1994) and The Angel of Darkness (1997), Carr re-creates New York City in the 1890s, a historically recognisable world but one which is popu- lated by a mixture of fictional and historical figures. As a history graduate but, equally, as a writer of stories of detection, Carr evinces a sustained commitment to detail and fact (as is apparent in his Acknowledgments), which he skillfully integrates into overarching historical themes, notably the emergence of urban modernity. The other dimension to Carr's work, though, is the highly imaginative use of the detective story genre to confront a more complex historiographical challenge than achieving period authenticity: how to write a history of unconscious fears and their irruption into daily life. In a 1919 essay, Freud terms this phenomenon the uncanny and we might, therefore, summarise Caleb Carr's contribution as an effort to represent the hidden historical structure of the uncanny.
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Appears in Collections:Books & Book Chapters, Centre for American Studies

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