Monday, January 28, 2013

Book Report: The Murders in the Rue Morgue

Edgar Allan Poe's brilliant observationist detective, Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin, is considered by many the origin of the classic detective character. He made his appearance in "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", which is, again, not a novel but a short story. I feel like I'm breaking an oath: this is a story report rather than a book report.

Still, if you've read the works of Conan Doyle, you'll definitely see where Doyle found Sherlock inspiration in the character of Dupin. The similarities aren't limited to the preternaturally intelligent detective either; "Rue Morgue" is, like the Sherlock stories, narrated by the detective's faithful sidekick. Or, to keep the chronology correct, perhaps I should say that the Sherlock stories, like "Murders in the Rue Morgue", are narrated by the detective's faithful sidekick. I guess Doyle, as many authors since, didn't want to muck up the perfect formula...

"They have fallen into the gross but common error of confounding the unusual with the abstruse. But it is by these deviations from the plane of the ordinary that reason feels its way, if at all, in its search for the true. In investigations such as we are now pursuing, it should not be so much asked 'what has occurred,' as 'what has occurred that has never occurred before.' In fact, the facility with which I shall arrive, or have arrived, at the solution of this mystery is in the direct ratio of its apparent insolubility in the eyes of the police." 

I stared at the speaker in mute astonishment. --Edgar Allan Poe

I was a big Poe fan in middle and high school. That won't surprise most of my friends, as I was a tiny bit obsessed with the macabre (Was? Who am I kidding?), and you really won't find anyone more classically macabre than Poe. I think several of my teachers were concerned with how much I enjoyed "The Cask of Amontillado", and to this day I sometimes find myself quoting some of the final lines of the story:

For the love of God, Montresor! 

Yes, I said, for the love of God!

But only in appropriate situations, of course, and usually only under my breath. Usually. Also, I used to read "Annabel Lee" and cry. For real. And that concludes the month of detective fiction. I'll give you one guess as to what genre February will bring...

If you share an affinity for Poe, I'd like to suggest H.P. Lovecraft's The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Tales, Jules Verne's The Sphinx of the Ice Realm (where he actually borrows characters from Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket), H.G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau, and for the detective genre: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle and The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson.

1. Dior Homme 2012 collection, via Fashionising; 2. Parisian street, by Rebecca Plotnick; 3. French window, by Eye Poetry; 4. Well-trod stairs, via Circus Circus; 5. Fireplace, via Interior Alchemy; 6. French bedroom, via Bohemian Wornest; 7. Burberry London's double-breasted trench, via Men's Fashion; 8. Hat options from The King's Speech, via A Modern Dandy; 9. Dapper shoes, via Costin M. Inspired; 10. Whist rule book, via Keterry; 11. Kiani the orangutan, by Natalie Manuel; 12. Antique razor, via Mademoiselle Chippotte.

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