Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 10
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Krawczyk-Żywko, Lucyna 2016. A Study in Four Colours: The Case of the Chameleon Detective. Victoriographies, Vol. 6, Issue. 1, p. 25.


    OLSON, ALEXANDER I. 2016. Muybridge in the Parlor. Journal of American Studies, Vol. 50, Issue. 01, p. 81.


    Moss, Eloise 2014. “How I Had Liked This Villain! How I Had Admired Him!”: A. J. Raffles and the Burglar as British Icon, 1898–1939. Journal of British Studies, Vol. 53, Issue. 01, p. 136.


    Newman, Sarah 2013. GENTLEMAN, JOURNALIST, GENTLEMAN-JOURNALIST. Journalism Studies, Vol. 14, Issue. 5, p. 698.


    Newman, Sarah and Houlbrook, Matt 2013. INTRODUCTION. Journalism Studies, Vol. 14, Issue. 5, p. 640.


    Sevik, Greg 2013. Enlightenment, Counter-Enlightenment: Detection, Reason, and Genius in Tales of Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle. Clues: A Journal of Detection, Vol. 31, Issue. 2, p. 20.


    Kociatkiewicz, Jerzy and Kostera, Monika 2012. Sherlock Holmes and the adventure of the rational manager: Organizational reason and its discontents. Scandinavian Journal of Management, Vol. 28, Issue. 2, p. 162.


    Taylor, Jennie 2012. Pennies from Heaven and Earth in Mass Observation's Blackpool. The Journal of British Studies, Vol. 51, Issue. 01, p. 132.


    Oram, Alison 2011. Bodies, Sex and Desire from the Renaissance to the Present.


    Blu Buhs, Joshua 2010. Wildmen on the Cyberfrontier: The Computer Geek as an Iteration in the American Wildman Lore Cycle. Folklore, Vol. 121, Issue. 1, p. 61.


    ×

‘CLAP IF YOU BELIEVE IN SHERLOCK HOLMES’: MASS CULTURE AND THE RE-ENCHANTMENT OF MODERNITY, c. 1890–c. 1940

  • MICHAEL SALER (a1)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0018246X03003170
  • Published online: 01 September 2003
Abstract

Since the late nineteenth century, Western intellectuals have tended to depict ‘modernity’ as being incompatible with ‘enchantment’. Thus Max Weber argued that two aspects intrinsic to modernity, rationalization and bureaucratization, were inimical to the magical attitudes toward human existence that characterized medieval and early modern thought. His gloomy image of the ‘iron cage’ of reason echoed the fears of earlier romantics and was to be repeated by later cultural pessimists through the twentieth century. This article recovers a different outlook that emerged during the fin-de-siècle, one that reconciled the rational and secular tenets of modernity with enchantment and that underlies many forms of contemporary cultural practice. The popularity of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is taken as an exemplary instance of a specifically modern form of enchantment. First, Holmes's own form of rationalism, ‘animistic reason’, offered an alternative to the narrower instrumental reason that cultural pessimists claimed as a defining element of modernity. Second, many adult readers at the turn of the century and beyond were able to pretend that Holmes was real, and his creator fictitious, through the ‘ironic imagination’, a more capacious and playful understanding of the imagination than that held by the early Victorians. Both animistic reason and the ironic imagination made Holmes an iconic figure who enacted and represented the reconciliation of modernity and enchantment, whereas Doyle, unable to accept this reconciliation, resorted to spiritualism, a holdover of ‘premodern’ enchantment.

Copyright
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Historical Journal
  • ISSN: 0018-246X
  • EISSN: 1469-5103
  • URL: /core/journals/historical-journal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×