Thirty-Two Stories

By Edgar Allan Poe; Stuart Levine et al. | Go to book overview

THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE
Meet C. Auguste Dupin, Poe's detective hero in this "first of the modern detective stories." There are two other stories about him--"The Mystery of Marie Rogêt"and"The Purloined Letter "--in which his powers of analysis and intuition increase. Poe's "tales of ratiocination" are so popular and familiar that one is apt to miss the very considerable extent to which they exemplify, his philosophy of beauty, creativity, and perception. But the usual pattern is here; to perceive the complex pattern, one must be hypersensitive, almost to the point of madness, or extraordinarily gifted. Strong hints of what is to come appear in the first paragraph of"Rue Morgue"; Dupin almost seems able to intuit truth. Seeour headnote to "The Purloined Letter."If the secluded hideout shared by Dupin and the narrator seems familiar, it is because subsequent writers have made it so. The idea of the hero's hidden quarters has passed into popular culture; it is present in pulp and comic book material. Poe invented a great deal of the claptrap and many of the conventions of the modern commercial detective and "superhero" fiction, as A. Conan Doyle and later writers have acknowledged. Sherlock Holmes, he said, owed much to Dupin, as did the detective-heroes of other writers: "If every man who receives a cheque for a story which owes its springs to Poe were to pay tithe to a monument for the Master, he would have a pyramid as big as that of Cheops."A note of explanation: No one seems able to explain exactly what Poe means by "the old philosophy of the Bi-Part Soul" and the "fancy of a double Dupin. . . creative and resolvent." Numerous ancient philosophies use the concept of a dual soul: it appears, for example, in Egypt and, in different form, seems to be an underlying concept in the Homeric epics (one part or soul is associated with breath, the other with blood). But we have never found the parts called "creative and resolvent." We suspect that Poe borrowed the concept from an as-yet-unlocated passage in his reading (we have searched likely places most diligently), or that he made up the two properties out of Dupin's characteristics.Since Poe didn't really know Paris, we wondered where he got the texture of his Parisian setting. We are quite sure we now know: from Volume I, Chapter 23, of Bulwer-Lytton's Pelham; or Adventures of a Gentleman ( 1828). Our reasons:
1. The references to Rousseau's La Nouvelle Héloïseappear in both places. Indeed, in "Loss of Breath,' Poe refers to exactly the same passage cited in Bulwer-Lytton.
2. The references to Crébillon appear in both places.

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Thirty-Two Stories
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Metzengerstein 1
  • The Duc de L'Omelette 9
  • Ms. Found in a Bottle 16
  • The Assignation 26
  • Shadow 42
  • Silence 48
  • Ligeia 54
  • How to Write a Blackwood Article 68
  • The Fall of the House of Usher 87
  • William Wilson 104
  • The Man of the Crowd 120
  • The Murders in the Rue Morgue 130
  • A Descent into the Maelström 159
  • Eleonora 174
  • The Masque of the Red Death 181
  • The Pit and the Pendulum 188
  • The Domain of Arnheim 200
  • The Tell-Tale Heart 216
  • The Gold-Bug 221
  • The Black Cat 248
  • The Purloined Letter 256
  • The Balloon-Hoax 272
  • The Literary Life of Thingum Bob, Esq. 284
  • Some Words with a Mummy 303
  • The Power of Words 318
  • The Imp of the Perverse 323
  • The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar 329
  • The Cask of Amontillado 339
  • Mellonta Tauta 346
  • Hop-Frog 361
  • Von Kempelen and His Discovery 370
  • Bibliography 379
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