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Dirk ex Machina: Douglas Adams’ Saga and Holistic Detection as Religious Satire

Emilio Gianotti


Douglas Adams, in his Dirk Gently series, presents his protagonist as a “holistic detective”. Following in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes, the detective bases his claims on scientific evidence and always succeeds in his enquiries. However, the mechanics of his comically random detecting behavior clash with the conclusiveness of the plot, casting doubt on the control of the protagonist over his method. A study of these mechanics as inherently computer-like elicits an interplay between the openness of a holistic postmodern pastiche and the reassuring closure granted by the appeal to science. An analysis of these core concepts, and of the influence of the New Atheist movement on the author, leads to an underlining of the satiric elements of the series. As satires of religion, these novels attack false systems of belief in favor of an enjoyment of uncertainty that waits for the answers of science.


Dirk Gently; holism; Deus ex machina; satire; religion.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/ling-2021-002-gian

Copyright (©) 2021 Emilio Gianotti – Editorial format and Graphical layout: copyright (©) LED Edizioni Universitarie

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Linguæ & - Rivista di lingue e culture moderne
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (06/04/2012 n. 185)
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