The Flâneur Detective as Time Traveller: Social Criticism in the Urban Environment

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This article analyses how, in walking the streets of their cities in search for clues, and remembering old architecture, places and people, fictional Italian detectives experience a physical and emotional journey. As Bould and Vint (“Political Reading,” 102–12) have maintained, time displacement in literature lends itself to a political rea-ding of the past and the present. Likewise, the detective s experience of architecture and urban topography as living bodies allows the urban sleuth to cast a critical eye on the present. In other words, the detective, like a Janus figure (Geherin 201), looks at the past to point at the contemporary evils of pollution, unauthorized building, corruption and consumerism in the urban environment. Ultimately their virtual “time travelling” becomes a sort of “critical” nostalgia that shows how the real culprit of the crime stories is not a single villain but capitalism and greed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-152
Number of pages16
JournalAnnali d'Italianistica
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Crime fiction
  • literary geography
  • City mobility

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