Dirk Gently (born Svlad Cjelli, also known as Dirk Cjelli) is a fictional character created by Douglas Adams and featured in the books Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. He is portrayed as a pudgy man who normally wears a heavy old light brown suit, red checked shirt with a green striped tie, long leather coat, red hat and thick metal-rimmed spectacles. "Dirk Gently" is not the character's real name. It is noted early on in the first book that it is a pseudonym for "Svlad Cjelli". Dirk himself states that the name has a "Scottish dagger feel" to it. Svlad Cjelli is Croatian for "master the whole", a clear allusion to his holistic trait.
Dirk bills himself as a "holistic detective" who makes use of "the fundamental interconnectedness of all things" to solve the whole crime, and find the whole person. This involves running up large expense accounts and then claiming that every item (such as needing to go to a tropical beach in the Bahamas for three weeks) was, as a consequence of this "fundamental interconnectedness", actually a vital part of the investigation. Challenged on this point in the first novel, he claims that he cannot be considered to have ripped anybody off, because none of his clients have ever paid him. His office is supposed to be located at 33a Peckender St. N1 London.
Gently is psychic, though he refuses to believe in such things, insisting that he merely has a "depressingly accurate knack for making wild assumptions". The depressing part is that he is seemingly unable to use this knack to win money on horses. As a student at Cambridge University (St. Cedd's College) he attempted to acquire money by selling exam papers for the upcoming tests. His fellow undergraduates were convinced that he was psychic and had produced the papers under hypnosis, while he claimed he had simply studied previous papers and determined potential patterns in questions. However, when his papers turned out to be exactly the same as the real ones, to the very comma, he was arrested and sent to prison.
- Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (1987)
- The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (1988)
- The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time (unfinished)
Adaptations and portrayals
- The South Bank Show (1992) Dirk Gently was played by Michael Bywater in the TV documentary.
- Dirk (2006) Scot Burklin portrayed Dirk in the 2006 American premiere of the play at The Road Theatre Company in Los Angeles.
- Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (2007) BBC Radio 4 played by Harry Enfield.
- The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (2008) BBC Radio 4 played by Harry Enfield.
- Dirk Gently (2010, 2012) starred Stephen Mangan in the title role in a TV pilot broadcast on BBC4 in late 2010 and subsequently for a series broadcast in early 2012.
Aborted third book
Douglas Adams was working on a third Dirk Gently novel, The Salmon of Doubt, at the time of his death. However Adams said "A lot of the stuff which was originally in The Salmon of Doubt really wasn't working", and that he had planned on "salvaging some of the ideas that I couldn't make work in a Dirk Gently framework and putting them in a Hitchhiker framework... and for old time's sake I may call it The Salmon of Doubt." The first ten chapters of this novel, assembled from various drafts following Adams' death, together with a memo suggesting further plot points, appear in The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time.
- "The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams - Reviews, Books". The Independent. 2002-05-10. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
- "Cover Stories: Douglas Adams, Narnia Chronicles, Something like a House - Features, Books". The Independent. 2002-01-05. Retrieved 2009-11-06.