The Case of Mór Jókai and the Detective Story

Péter Hajdu


While from the viewpoint of typology it is often stated that the genre of detective fiction originated with the work of Edgar Allan Poe, this statement can be challenged from the standpoint of literary or reception history. Several recent histories of detective fiction emphasize the importance of employing a wider generic view, yet they hardly expand their perspective beyond English literary traditions. This paper examines how the usual, theorized requirement for detective fiction concerning the work’s exclusive focus on the crime committed and its detection was not characteristic of nineteenth-century detective stories written in Central Europe. Even though the detective story pattern is recognizable in Mór Jókai’s short story, “A három királyok csillaga” [‘The Star of the Magi’], it does not dominate the entire depiction, but rather represents one strand woven into a tragic love story as well as the history of national resistance, aspects bearing equal significance in this very sophisticated work.


Detective fiction, nineteenth-century literature, Mór Jókai

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