Friday, April 17, 2009

Poe Fridays: The Murders in the Rue Morgue

This week's Poe Fridays short story is The Murders in the Rue Morgue which you can read here.

The beginning of this story is a longish somewhat rambling discourse on the different types of problem solving -- analysis versus ingenuity.
The analytical power should not be confounded with simple ingenuity; for while the analyst is necessarily ingenious, the ingenious man is often remarkably incapable of analysis. The constructive or combining power, by which ingenuity is usually manifested, and to which the phrenologists (I believe erroneously) have assigned a separate organ, supposing it a primitive faculty, has been so frequently seen in those whose intellect bordered otherwise upon idiocy, as to have attracted general observation among writers on morals. Between ingenuity and the analytic ability there exists a difference far greater, indeed, than that between the fancy and the imagination, but of a character very strictly analogous. It will be found, in fact, that the ingenious are always fanciful, and the truly imaginative never otherwise than analytic.

After this, we are told we can see the brilliance of analysis in action in the case of a young man named C. Auguste Dupin. The narrator of this story becomes friends with Dupin and they move together into a dilapidated castle. They spend all of their time sequestered and talking and reading and thinking. When they read in the newspaper of a horrific double murder, Dupin thinks its solution is a challenge worthy of him. They visit the murder scene but Dupin solves the mystery from the comfort of his home using only his powers of observation and analysis.

This is classic Poe and was in fact the first "detective" story. Dupin was the model for none other than Sherlock Holmes. This story was very popular when it was released and it led to Poe's popularity in France. This is one tale where Poe uses both his wit and intelligence without co-mingling self-pity in the story.

Next week, I would like to read Three Sundays in a Week, another short story.

Wondering who would move to "Morgue Street",