Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Professor Jennifer Terni, Professor Anne Berthelot, Professor Roger Celestin

Field of Study

Literatures, Cultures & Languages


Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


Vidocq, Vautrin, et la Naissance du Genre Policier examines how the life of former criminal-turned-chief of the French Sûreté Nationale, Eugène-François Vidocq, was mythicized with his sensational ghost-written memoirs, Mémoires of Vidocq, and in what way his legendary career and memoirs influenced some of the most renowned characters in French literature during the nineteenth century – most notably Honoré de Balzac’s infamous criminal-turned-police chief, Vautrin, in the Comédie Humaine. This study aims to demonstrate how the paradigm that was created by the combination of his Mémoires and his first literary incarnation, Balzac’s Vautrin, went on to establish the archetype of the modern detective in crime fiction, specifically the French Monsieur Lecoq by Émile Gaboriau and Arsène Lupin by Maurice Leblanc, the American C. Auguste Dupin by Edgar Allan Poe, and finally the British Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Major Advisor

Professor Jennifer Terni