Transportation, Mobility, And Horror: Conan Doyle’s Tales of Mystery and the Supernatural


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote many tales of mystery and the supernatural from 1890s to 1910s, years saw the advancement of powerful modern science and technology, especially inventions of transportation means or machines that accelerate mobility power in late-Victorian and Edwardian society. In some of these stories, Doyle exhibited a new perception of space and time that deviated from traditional and normalized recognition. He also highlighted in his stories horror ambience on a faster modern means of transportation from one place to another at that time. In a similar vein, Doyle tended to integrate an early subject's experience of shrunken space and reduced time into an unknown fear by delineating his characters who perceive mysterious horror while facing or riding in a moving vehicle, including train in tales like The Lost Special,The Man with the Watches, and The Brazilian Cat, motor ship in The Captain of Polestar, and monoplane or aeronautic machine in The Horror of Heights and Great Brown-Pericord Motor. These short stories manifest Doyle's anxiety of getting away from Holmesian rational deduction and moving closer to a modern form of spiritualism. How can this spatiotemporal mobility be connected to mysterious affairs which lead Doyle's quasi-detective characters and police power to spring into investigative action, or be related to an individual awe-inspiring spectacle of supernatural beings hidden in a seemingly Romanticist's sublime landscape in rural area? Transportation, mobility, and horror are woven together into a driving force that facilitates our geographical and forensic exploration of Doyle's tales.

Author Information
Ming-fong Wang, MingDao University, Taiwan

Paper Information
Conference: LibrAsia2015
Stream: Literature - Anglo-American Literature

This paper is part of the LibrAsia2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon