Subversion of the Image of the Hard-boiled Gumshoe in Richard Brautigan’s Dreaming of Babylon: A Private Eye Novel 1942

Document Type : Original Article


1 M.A. in English Language and Literature, University of Guilan, Rasht, Iran

2 Associate Professor of English Language and Literature, University of Guilan, Rasht, Iran



The present article aims to analyze Richard Brautigan’s Dreaming of Babylon: A Private Eye Novel 1942 (1977) in the light of the genre of Metaphysical Detective Story. As a postmodern genre, Metaphysical Detective Story alters the customary features of traditional detective stories in order to go beyond simple murder mysteries and become a literary phenomenon which examines the questions of being. The central questions of the article are: what makes Richard Brautigan’s Dreaming of Babylon a metaphysical detective story? What are the functions and implications of metaphysical elements in the novel? To answer these questions, first the characteristic features of metaphysical detective stories are introduced and then they are contextualized in the novel. Focusing on such concepts as ‘parodic detective,’ ‘dreams,’ and ‘circular narrative,’ the present research examines how the novel subverts the standard tropes of hard-boiled detective stories and becomes a philosophical novel which portrays a bleak world and a failed hero. The article shows that as a postmodern novel, Brautigan’s Dreaming of Babylon deals with life in the postmodern era and explores the questions of being and knowing in the contemporary world instead of becoming another whodunit mystery.


Main Subjects

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Volume 5, Issue 1 - Serial Number 9
January 2023
Pages 63-78
  • Receive Date: 06 March 2021
  • Revise Date: 14 July 2021
  • Accept Date: 07 January 2022
  • First Publish Date: 04 January 2023