Death in a Delphi Seminar

A Postmodern Mystery

By Norman N. Holland

Subjects: Literary Theory
Series: SUNY series, The Margins of Literature
Paperback : 9780791426005, 334 pages, August 1995
Hardcover : 9780791425992, 334 pages, August 1995

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In this detective novel set in a small, intense seminar, eight students study what their professor regards as the central mystery of human nature: the uniqueness of the individual. One morning a woman student who has been fighting this idea and disrupting the seminar keels over, poisoned. The detective who takes charge is himself a writer who finds this tight little world of academic criticism and theory fascinating, baffling, yet somehow sympathetic. Together he and the professor explore the minds and writings of the people in the seminar in order to track the murderer, then another body is found, pointing them in a different direction.

Norman N. Holland has written eleven books, widely known for their clarity, wit, and zest. He has also ventured into film criticism in print and on television, programmed instruction, computer databases, Internetting, and lecturing not only in such familiar places as London, Paris, Rome, or Berlin, but in Sapporo, Benares, and even Kathmandu.


"A remarkable murder mystery in which the murder takes place in a graduate seminar on literature and psychology and the mystery is solved by the techniques of reader-response analysis. ...Holland's novel incorporates the very kind of literary analysis that the author professes, and it introduces—as motive, as content, as clues—various other contemporary approaches to literary theory. " — Theodore Ziolkowski, Princeton University

"Once I started reading Death in a Delphi Seminar, I had difficulty putting it down. Indeed, it consumed much of a weekend, and when I finished, I wanted more. The book is fascinating, completely accessible even as it deals ingeniously with the most arcane lit crit jargon (what Holland has wittily called elsewhere the language of the 'New Cryptics'), and accurate in its characterization of postmodern theory. Plus it is witty, clever, ironic, allusive, and sophisticated without being pretentious. " — Jeffrey Berman