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The Sign of Four

Towheed, Shafquat (2010). The Sign of Four. Broadview Press, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

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Abstract

Arthur Conan Doyle’s second Sherlock Holmes novel is both a detective story and an imperial romance. Ostensibly the story of Mary Morstan, a beautiful young woman enlisting the help of Holmes to find her vanished father and solve the mystery of her receipt of a perfect pearl on the same date each year, it gradually uncovers a tale of treachery and human greed. The action audaciously ranges from penal settlements on the Andaman Islands to the suburban comfort of South London, and from the opium-fuelled violence of Agra Fort during the Indian ‘Mutiny’ to the cocaine-induced contemplation of Holmes’ own Baker Street.

This Broadview Edition places Doyle’s tale in the cultural, political, and social contexts of late nineteenth-century colonialism and imperialism. The appendices provide a wealth of relevant extracts from hard-to-find sources, including official reports, memoirs, newspaper editorials, and anthropological studies.

“In this erudite and provocative edition, Shafquat Towheed offers fans of both Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle an intricate account of the intertextual histories at the heart of The Sign of Four. Arguing for the inextricability of its colonial plots with its work as detective fiction, Towheed builds a persuasive case for The Sign of Four as Mutiny fiction, positioning it as pivotal to the imperial career of ‘British’ fiction per se. Readers of this edition will be gripped by the colonial pathways Towheed reveals, the politics of citation he uncovers, and the entanglement of home and empire he tracks in the making of the novel. This is postcolonial interpretation at its very best.”

(Antoinette Burton, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

Item Type: Other
Extra Information: ISBN: 9781551118376.
Keywords: Arthur Conan Doyle; Sherlock Holmes; Indian Mutiny, 1857; 221b Baker Street; detective fiction; Andaman Islands; postcolonial criticism; Agra
Academic Unit/Department: Arts > English
Item ID: 23435
Depositing User: Shafquat Towheed
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2010 14:36
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2012 14:33
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/23435
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