Local attention: Melbourne on the map in Fergus Hume’s "Mystery of a Hansom Cab"
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Lanning, K. (2021).l Attention: Melbourne on the Map in Fergus Hume’s Mystery of a Hansom Cab. J Pop Cult, 54: 1331-1354. https://doi.org/10.1111/jpcu.13088
Contrary to Machalias’s and Kipperman’s depictions of the novel as stuck in a colonial outpost, Hansom Cab presents a Melbourne that is mappable, traversable, and modern. The mysteries that populate Hume’s novel are driven by connection and movement across the city, the “invisible bonds” of the novel’s epigraph. Through the connections afforded by such modern urban planning, Hume’s Melbourne also contains surprises and twists for local readers who think they know their city. The murder route and detective chase render visible these social and cultural overlaps across Melbourne’s developing sectors. The novel challenges locals to consider the changing nature of their colonial identity as the city continues to prosper. In its depiction of Melbourne’s pathways as fundamental clues to the novel’s puzzle, The Mystery of a Hansom Cab tracks the movement of cultural meaning across a quickly developing landscape. In bringing critical attention back to Hume’s “local attention,” we can once again discover the indissoluble links between a city and its readers.
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