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Eliminare l’impossibile: Darwin, Winwood Reade e l’adagio di Sherlock Holmes

Jan Marten Ivo Klaver


This essay looks at the origin and success of Sherlock Holmes’s most famous maxim: “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”. Arthur Conan Doyle’s repeated use of the phrase in numerous Sherlock Holmes stories published between 1892 and 1927 shows that the author was fully aware of the rhetorical power of the expression. But what ended up as a motto for the detective’s methods of investigation was initially the expression of a Darwinian discourse in The Sign of Four, the novel in which the adage was first formulated.

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Copyright (©) 2014 Linguæ & - Rivista di lingue e culture moderne – Editorial format and Graphical layout: copyright (©) LED Edizioni Universitarie


Linguæ & - Rivista di lingue e culture moderne
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (06/04/2012 n. 185)
Online ISSN 1724-8698 - Print ISSN 2281-8952

Dipartimento di Scienze della Comunicazione, Studi Umanistici e Internazionali: Storia, Culture, Lingue, Letterature, Arti, Media
Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo

Editor-in-Chief: Roberta Mullini
Editorial Board: Maurizio Ascari - Stefano Beretta - Antonio Bertacca- Tania Collani - Chiara Elefante - Marina Guglielmi - Maryline Heck - Richard Hillman - Reinhard Johler - Stephen Knight - Cesare Mascitelli - Sonia Massai - Aurélie Moioli - Maria de Fátima Silva - Bart Van Den Bossche 

Editorial Staff: Margaret Amatulli - Alessandra Calanchi - Riccardo Donati - Ivo Klaver  - Massimiliano Morini - Antonella Negri - Luca Renzi

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