Date Thesis Awarded

5-2015

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

English

Advisor

Simon Joyce

Committee Member

Henry Hart

Committee Member

Christopher MacGowan

Committee Member

Charles McGovern

Abstract

Detective Fiction reached its “golden age” between the World Wars at the peak of the modernist era. Like the highbrow literature of its day, detective fiction grapples with the pressing questions of the 20th century: Who is responsible for our current state of things? Is there a master narrative that can reconcile contradictory perspectives on the truth? Can human understanding access such a narrative? This thesis explores the works of T. S. Eliot, a modernist and detective fiction enthusiast, in light of their detective language and narratives. I suggest that Eliot used the detective narrative as a metaphor for his own search for truth, especially for spiritual truth. I link the progression of detective themes in three of his works, The Waste Land, Murder in the Cathedral, and The Family Reunion to the development of his religious beliefs and his conversion to Anglo-Catholicism.

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