Godwin's Caleb Williams: Showing the Strains in Detective Fiction

Cohen, Michael
January 1998
Eighteenth Century Fiction;Jan1998, Vol. 10 Issue 2, p203
Academic Journal
Literary Criticism
This article focuses on detective fictions of the eighteenth century. Julian Symons argues that however ingeniously others mine biblical or classical texts as sources for detective fiction, the genre's characteristic features do not come together before the end of the eighteenth century. William Godwin's "Caleb Williams," is about a murder, its detection, and the unrelenting pursuit by the murderer of the person who has discovered his guilt. This novel dramatizes Godwin's theory of political justice and, in doing so, enlarges the fissures and exaggerates the slippages in his theory.


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