Publication Date

Fall 2009

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Foreign Languages


Danielle Trudeau

Subject Areas

Literature, Modern.; Literature, Romance.


Fred Vargas, author of detective novels that have in recent years garnered critical praise and public enthusiasm, transcends the limitations of the genre of detective fiction. In relation to other notable authors in the genre, Vargas is exceptional. Vargas' principal protagonist, Adamsberg, is complex and multifaceted, and the novels contain multiple layers of meaning, including the symbolism of the four elements, and direct or indirect references to the Homeric epics, popular legends and folklore, fairy tales, and medieval literature. Adamsberg can be compared to the archetypal hero, as defined by Joseph Campbell. Fred Vargas is not only a novelist, but a professional archeologist. Here, we attempt to "unearth" the literary artifacts to be found in her novels, all of which lend a depth and richness to her work that is unusual in the genre of detective fiction.