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.