By Martin A Kayman
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Extra resources for From Bow Street to Baker Street: Mystery, Detection and Narrative
The secular mysteries of the courts had burned deep into the popular consciousness, and perhaps the labouring poor knew more of the terrors of the law than those of religion. ' 19 This rite served as a preface to the second key moment of the mystery of the criminal law, the public ceremony of execution. With its 'doctrine of maximum severity', the 'Bloody Code' took the narrative form of a closed, simple and univocal moral drama. By committing a felony, the subject lost all right to continue within the universe of the community and surrendered his or her body Crime 41 and destiny to the will of authority.
Hence arises a metaphorical ambiguity between the criminal and the new property classes which is insistently exploited in these narratives - again particularly those of Defoe. Moll's very move into criminality arises because of her desire to change class: 'I had a thorough aversion to going to service, as they called it (that is, to be a servant)'. She wishes to be, precisely, 'a gentlewoman'; however, the meaning of the word is a mystery to her: 'they meant one sort of thing by the word gentlewoman, and I meant quite another; for, alas!
11 More important still is the fact that the attempted textual systematization of existing law was accompanied by extensive legislation: the new criminal law statutes, which, as if in testimony to their comprehensive and exhaustive nature, were known popularly as the 'Bloody Code'. More than 187 capital statutes were enacted between 1660 and 1819, in an increasingly wholesale incorporation of social life under the criminal law which goes a long way to explain the contemporary obsession with crime as an expression of the mystery of the modem state.
From Bow Street to Baker Street: Mystery, Detection and Narrative by Martin A Kayman