The detective is an icon of American masculinity that articulates the myth of the lone hero. The detective narrative is concerned, above all, with the investigation of the hero's masculinity, which must be tested and proved by solving the case. Detective heroes, who offer models of ideal manhood, have also embodied changing social attitudes toward masculinity.

Edgar Allan Poe's character C. Auguste Dupin is the literary father of all fictional detectives, including Arthur Conan Doyle's famous British sleuth Sherlock Holmes. The sleuth is characterized by the superior skills of deduction and observation associated with manhood in Victorian culture. By the 1920s and 1930s, an increasing emphasis on aggressiveness, sexuality, and the body in American constructions of male identity generated new kinds of detective figures. The hard-boiled ...

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