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The Murders In Rue Morgue (2000)

The Murders in Rue Morgue (2000)

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About book The Murders In Rue Morgue (2000)

The much-hyped, greatly-revered “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” were a bitter disappointment.The first and titular of the five short stories began with a long discussion of everything you never wanted to know about chess, simply to allow Poe to make clear the difference between observing and analysing. The case is outlined in the past tense, and solved immediately. There is no investigation, and none of the characters referred to actually appear. In fact, the long, repetitive and frankly monotonous character summaries are all but useless when it comes to the solution, which is bad play on Poe’s part and humiliating to the modern writer.His next story begins with a spiel on calculus before using a similar style to recount the case. Poe’s writing style is difficult to follow. He censors names, places and dates for no real reason, and in the second story is at great pains to explain the fiction is based on a true story. Thus, he jumps in and out of character, telling the tale in first-person as the detective’s friend, and as an omniponent narrator, and seems confused about his role in the whole escapade.Long newspaper “clippings” are written in the same flowery prose, or staccato; annotations pop up to explain the parallels to real cases to the reader akin to watching a DVD commentary while watching the feature film; and the author tells the reader that he declines to pass on information because he feels like it.That being said, one must recognise and praise Poe for inventing the gengre of detective fiction and a great deal of literary devices – locked room murder, ‘detective and friend’ narration, and more. Having the first ever murder mystery on your shelf is a coup. Reading it, however, is more like a punishment. Arthur Conan Doyle repeatedly cited Poe as a creative inspiration in his writing - particularly Poe's detective stories which are widely considered to be the first ever detective stories (Wilkie Collins is also attributed this honor with his book The Moonstone, but that was published several years later). Though I had read a few of Poe's short stories for school while growing up, I had not read his detective stories and was surprised to think of him as writing such stories as I had always consigned him to the realms of the fantastical and the macabre. This story is the first of his 3 detective stories featuring his amateur detective Monsieur Auguste Dupin. The story is a decidedly more gruesome sort of murder mystery than Doyle wrote as it is of course Poe. I was surprised however by the logical turns in which he wrote and just how many parallels there are between Doyle's characters and Poe's. Though Sherlock Holmes ridicules Dupin in one of his stories, Dupin, like Holmes, is solitary, taciturn and given to moodiness. Like Holmes, the stories are told from a narrator who lives with Dupin and whose thoughts Dupin enjoys predicting/reading to the astonishment of the narrator. There is even a quote that smacks of a very well known Holmes quote which is: "Now brought to this conclusion in so unequivocal a manner as we are, it is not our part, as reasoners, to reject it on account of apparent impossibilities. It is only for us to prove that these apparent 'impossibilities' are, in reality, not such." This later came out of the mouth of Sherlock Holmes (much more cleverly phrased) as: "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." - The Sign of Four. As a study then of Poe's influence on the work of Arthur Conan Doyle, this mystery is fascinating. On its own however, it is easy to see why it is not as well known as Doyle's work as Poe has a tendency to become overly verbose when describing his ideas of analysis. He takes fully 2 pages to basically say that he feels those who can analyze well tend to be imaginative and ingenious, but not necessarily vice versa (a simple syllogism of all A are B, but not all B are A). The story aside from the excessive narration however is interesting and provides amusement in some unusual views due to lack of familiarity with other regions. I will not say more as it would spoil the ending. Overall an interesting read, but more so when considered with Doyle's writings.

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It was cool to read it just because it was the first mystery ever written.


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