Peter Ackroyd’s anti-detective novel Hawksmoor gives life to an innovative and disquieting villain capable of stirring up sentiments of both profound disgust and undeniable fascination. Although Nicolas Dyer lived in the 17th century he possesses characteristics pertaining to villains that are typical of preceding and following centuries. He therefore can be considered a “pastiche” villain, in that he combines worshipping of primaeval and mediaeval demoniac practices, a typically Renaissance Machiavellian use of architectural and intellectual skills for his dark purposes and the criminal’s apparent normality and elusiveness from the law that contemporary readers suspect and fear. His tragic past, fragile sanity and passionate devotion towards his mission, along with his cynical but clear-cut opinions on his time and its protagonists, often make him a sympathetic villain, even though he is admittedly guilty of many gruesome murders. Such insight into his life leads us to believe that there is a little villainy in each of us, making its presence a threat that is as invisible and everlasting as the hidden demoniac symbols located in the churches he planned. Dyer represents the darkness that perpetually lurks in the shadows of knowledge and enlightenment, and his mystic influence is such that centuries later his solitary but honest Doppelgänger detective Hawksmoor is deeply bound to him through the recurring homicides that take place in the 1980s and perfectly mirror Dyer’s. Moreover, as is often the case with postmodern detective novels, Dyer is never officially discovered or brought to justice, so anything even remotely resembling a realization can only occur through an irrational solution, such as the epiphany that Hawksmoor experiences at the novel’s closure.

Enter Peter Ackroyd’s Nicholas Dyer, Architect, Devil Worshipper and Murderer

DOERR, Roxanne Barbara
2011

Abstract

Peter Ackroyd’s anti-detective novel Hawksmoor gives life to an innovative and disquieting villain capable of stirring up sentiments of both profound disgust and undeniable fascination. Although Nicolas Dyer lived in the 17th century he possesses characteristics pertaining to villains that are typical of preceding and following centuries. He therefore can be considered a “pastiche” villain, in that he combines worshipping of primaeval and mediaeval demoniac practices, a typically Renaissance Machiavellian use of architectural and intellectual skills for his dark purposes and the criminal’s apparent normality and elusiveness from the law that contemporary readers suspect and fear. His tragic past, fragile sanity and passionate devotion towards his mission, along with his cynical but clear-cut opinions on his time and its protagonists, often make him a sympathetic villain, even though he is admittedly guilty of many gruesome murders. Such insight into his life leads us to believe that there is a little villainy in each of us, making its presence a threat that is as invisible and everlasting as the hidden demoniac symbols located in the churches he planned. Dyer represents the darkness that perpetually lurks in the shadows of knowledge and enlightenment, and his mystic influence is such that centuries later his solitary but honest Doppelgänger detective Hawksmoor is deeply bound to him through the recurring homicides that take place in the 1980s and perfectly mirror Dyer’s. Moreover, as is often the case with postmodern detective novels, Dyer is never officially discovered or brought to justice, so anything even remotely resembling a realization can only occur through an irrational solution, such as the epiphany that Hawksmoor experiences at the novel’s closure.
9781848880528
Peter Ackroyd; Hawksmoor; Nicholas Dyer; Pastiche villain; Postmodernism; Anti-detective fiction; Villainy and felony
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11562/389552
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