National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Honors in Practice, Volume 9 (2013)


Copyright 2013 by the National Collegiate Honors Council


An unlikely meeting of minds might be the minor English philosopher and member of the Bloomsbury Group G. E. Moore and the Swedish mystery writer Henning Mankell’s detective Kurt Wallander, yet both—one real and the other fictional, one historical and one contemporary—are characterized by an unrelenting inquisitiveness integral to their personalities and professions. A member of the notorious but secretive Apostles while at Cambridge along with his friends Leonard Woolf, Lytton Strachey, E. M. Forster, Clive Bell, and John Maynard Keynes, Moore established his intellectual reputation by always asking “What exactly do you mean?” (Cohen). In order to probe more deeply, Mankell’s Wallander uses this same question in his line of work. In the first mystery in the series, Faceless Killers, Wallander’s superintendent Björk reports, “Our colleagues don’t sound happy. . . . It’s never anyone’s idea of fun to bring in someone from your own force. It’s going to be a wretched winter because of this.” To which Wallander replies, “What do you mean by wretched?” (267).