Edgar Allan Poe Writer Critic

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Biography

Edgar Allan Poe was born on 19th January, 1809, in Boston. John Allan and his wife, a childless couple looked after him after being orphaned at age two.

The family moved to England when Poe was six and he started his education there. He continued his studies at private schools after he returned with the Allan family to the U.S. in 1820. He attended a university and a military academy, but did not finish them.

He married his young cousin, Virginia Clemm, 13. Poe in the field of literature was known as a prose writer and a poet. He worked for several newspapers and magazines and became a member of the staff of the New York Mirror. He was battling a drinking problem and he was also accused of taking drugs.

Poe became famous in national and international perspective after his poem “The Raven” was published. Besides being active in the field of development of the short story, he is considered the inventor of the format for the detective story as it is known today. He was a successful writer and an excellent literary critic. In fact, he was unhappy and pessimistic not only for his heavy drinking but mostly because of the loss of the people very close to him, including Virginia, his wife. He always had financial problems, always spent more than he could have and paying his debts troubled him a lot. His heavy drinking contributed the cause of his death 7th October 1849.

There are examples of the unfathomable puzzle in his short stories that has become as one of the defining characteristics of the genre since his conception of the detective story.

The committed crime in 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue' without clue is almost impossible to solve. Only the evidence listed by Mr. Dupin reveals the full story for the reader but still relying on specific information of different ape species. Such cases can be classed as the trivial puzzle because the attached evidences` meaning or value is little and there is little hope to solve them without the detective`s intervention. A crime that is unsolvable by the most of readers is still a puzzle, a thing that is difficult to understand and includes the content found in detective story plots.

Poe`s crime story, 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue' is undoubtedly considered to be the first detective story ever written, a milestone in literature. For solving the mystery the process of using crystal clear logic referred to as a story of ratiocination. Mr Dupin, the clever amateur detective, is the main character, who relies on his intuition, his logic and on psychological calculus of probabilities.

Later writers used the detective-story structures Poe introduced, including a seemingly insoluble mystery, puzzled police, and a ‘clever head' solving the mystery and explaining every single moment of it.

Poe and his works influenced literature in the United States and everywhere in the world, as well as in specialized fields, such as cryptography and cosmology. Poe and his works appear throughout popular culture in literature, music, films, and television. A number of his homes are dedicated museums today.

Edgar Allan Poe

1809-1849

The Murders in the Rue Morgue

Summary

The story begins with a short introduction to it by the narrator, who is not yet known. We learn how he met Mr Dupin and their friendship developed.

Their first accidental meeting happened in a public library in Paris. When they realized they were looking for the same book they smiled at each other and started to talk. They decided to meet on a regular basis and became friends. Once during a walk Mr Dupin talks about an actor`s story who is well known by the narrator. He shows his ability by recalling some details of the story that are seemingly unimportant and making amazing conclusions.

A horrible murder cased happened in Rue Morgue that was delivered by every single newspaper in France. At 3 o`clock in the morning a loud cry wakes up and is heard from the fourth-floor apartment of Madame L'Espanaye and her daughter. Two loud voices are heard and then everything goes mute. Two policemen and the neighbours breaking into the apartment find a horrible scene of a crime, such as a razor with blood on it, a lot of money, an open safe and a lot of blood. They cannot find the two women. After a long inspection the discover Madame L'Espanaye`s corpse in the room and the corpse of Mademoiselle Camille in the chimney.

The newspaper article presents the witnesses` evidences that they heard two different voices: a higher voice and a deep one, first thought to be Spanish, and the second French. It also brings the news that Madame was hit heavily and Camille died from choking. In connection with the murders Adolphe Le Bon has been arrested, a bank clerk. Mr Dupin starts an investigation of the crime scene. Dupin finds the explanation how it is possible to escape from the apartment that is considered impossible and makes the whole situation so mysterious.

Dupin finds several elements of the crime scene dealt without the necessary care by the police. For example, the voice`s gender, nationality or meaning, the window can be opened from the inside. So according to him it was possible to leave the apartment through the window and close it from the outside without notice. He also suspects that someone or something with great power could climb up the lightning rod and enter the apartment from the outside. Finally, he is positive about there is no human that could have commit such a horrible murder and above all the hair removed from Madame`s fingers was not human.

The jigsaw joined together gives him a clue of a orang-utan`s paw that killed the mother and her daughter. Dupin finds a naval ribbon near the lighting rod so he believes that the animal`s owner must be a sailor. He places an advertisement in the local papers and fortunately the animal`s owner reveals his identity. Dupin finally gets all the necessary information from him. He learns that the animal after escaping from his room with his razor climbed the lighting rod and entered the apartment through the open window. It killed in a horrendous way first tha Madame and then choked her daughter, and then it threw The Madame`s corpse to the courtyard. The sailor could not do anything. The explanation of the mysterious voices is now clear: orang-utan`s horrible shrieks and the sailor`s deep voice.

Adolphe Le Bon, the bank clerk,who has been arrested is released from the police station`s prison cell. He is delighted about his innocence but not really grateful to Mr Dupin, who comments it in an ironic but witty way.

Analysis

Poe`s crime story, 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue' is undoubtedly considered to be the first detective story ever written, a milestone in literature. For solving the mystery the process of using crystal clear logic referred to as a story of ratiocination. The detective story`s roots originate from his continuous quest and interest in mind puzzles, games and secret codes, that are called cryptographs. He published them on a regular basis in magazines. Because of the low interest of the public and their inability to solve the puzzles he created fake personalities that would send in the solutions. He introduces his hero, M. Auguste Dupin who becomes a stand-in for Poe, who creates and solves the murder cases, which are in fact encoded cryptographs.

His own life is very similar to his crime story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” We can find clear connections between the suffering of the women in his own adult life, his wife`s, aunt`s, Frances Allen`s and the chaotic and deathly apartment that symbolizes the personal tragedies.

Setting

The story takes place in Paris. The corpses of Madame L'Espanaye and daughter, Mademoiselle Camille, are discovered in an apartment of a house on the Rue Morgue, a Paris street in about 1840.

Characters

C. August Dupin: Mr Dupin, the clever amateur detective, is the main character, who relies on his intuition, his logic and on psychological calculus of probabilities after reading a newspaper account about murders he decides to investigate them.

The Narrator: Is an unnamed person. He becomes a friend of Mr Dupin and tells the tale of his investigation.

Madame L'Espanaye and her daughter Mademoiselle Camille L'Espanaye: Brutally murdered in their own apartment

Sailor: The animal`s owner.  Adolphe Le Bon: The accused and arrested bank clerk.

Theme    The theme is very simple: solving a puzzle by a “clever head”. There are no hidden messages, no allegories in the tale.

Climax

The climax of the story is reached when the sailor tells the true story and the details about the killings.

Blurb

From my opinion this detective story is one of the greatest of Poe's stories. It gives us a very good experiences, and a picture about the style of detective story. For me it was very attentive, especially that part, in which Dupin discover, who was the murderer, and how could he, she or it escape from the apartment.

I suggest everyone to read this book, because it is absolutely all-absorbing. Chiefly for those who like exciting and thought-provoking stories. If you have not read Dupin and you like detective fiction, you should read it. Even if you've read the stories before, they are always worth another look. Particularly on a dark, rainy night like we've been having so many of lately.

Why is better to read in English rather than in translation?

In that historian period the English language was quite different rather than in now-days. There were many variances in the meaning of words, and unfortunately the translated works can not give us that spirit what is in the original English work. Many times the translations are not accurate, because the translators could not find the suitable expressions.

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