One of the earliest detectives in history, or at least the history of literature, is Zadig. Zadig is the main character of Voltaire’s philosophical novel Zadig; Or The Book Of Fate – An Oriental History. I stumbled across it’s existence while reading an old issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in which one chapter was featured under the title The Dog And The Horse. The brief editorial introduction, and some further researches on my own, assert that Zadig in this chapter may have been the inspiration for Edgar Allan Poe’s C. August Dupin!
I can sort of see it too, for The Dog And The Horse shows a kind of giant first step in an evolutionary process of the detective – seeing his marriage turn sour Zadig turns to the study of nature for his joy. A kind of passionate interest in the world is necessary for both the scientific detective and the more Sherlockian sort of detective.
The story is damn funny too.
Posted by Jesse Willis