21 December 2011

Investigating Arthur Upfield: A Centenary Collection of Critical Essays

Edited by Carol Hetherington and I, this book was published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing last week.

Arthur Upfield first arrived in Australia from England on 4 November 1911, and this collection of twenty-two critical essays by academics and scholars has been published to celebrate the centenary of his arrival.

The essays, all written after Upfield’s death in 1964, provide a wide range of responses to his fiction. The contributors, from Australia, Europe and the United States, include journalist Pamela Ruskin who was Upfield’s agent for fifteen years, anthropologists, literary scholars, pioneers in the academic study of popular culture such as John G. Cawelti and Ray B. Browne, and novelists Tony Hillerman and Mudrooroo whose own works have been inspired by Upfield’s.

The collection sheds light on the extent and nature of critical responses to Upfield over time, demonstrates the type of recognition he has received and highlights the way in which different preoccupations and critical trends have dealt with his work. The essays provide the basis for an assessment of Upfield’s place not only in the international annals of crime fiction but also in the literary and cultural history of Australia.

“This book is an essential for Arthur Upfield fans. Edited by two leading Upfield scholars, it contains articles from the best in the field and celebrates Australia’s most widely read detective fiction author. A must-have for anyone interested in detective fiction.”

– Toni Johnson-Woods, President, Popular Culture Association of Australia and New Zealand

“One of Australia’s most enduringly popular authors, Arthur W. Upfield also, in his creation of the Aboriginal detective Napoleon Bonaparte, started a discussion of race and representation in Australian fiction that persists to this day. This compilation, featuring scholars of distinction and range, will be the authoritative critical guide for all Upfield fans.”

– Nicholas Birns, the New School, New York