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NA427612 - POE, E.A.: Murders in the Rue Morgue (Unabridged)
in the Rue Morgue
The Mystery of Marie Rogêt
The Purloined Letter
The Dupin Stories
Read by Kerry Shale
The Dupin Stories
Indisputably the father of the detective novel, Edgar Allan Poe’s literary invention, Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin (first introduced in 1841), whose favorite pastime is solving crimes, possesses all the essential ingredients that we have come to expect from a fictional sleuth.
Poe’s three ‘Dupin’ stories display classic situations much imitated by crime writers through the decades that followed.
The setting for the stories is Paris, which may give us a clue as to Poe’s real-life model for Dupin. Vidocq was a criminal in Paris during the late 18th century who, escaping twice from the galleys, had a high reputation in the underworld. The equivocal moral nature of Vidocq fascinated Poe, who weaves elements of his life and attitudes into the Dupin stories. Throughout, there is the balance between the rational as exemplified by Dupin, and the irrational as exemplified by the criminal. A chance result is ruled out by a scientific approach making the solution conclusive.
In Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841), Poe presents us at once with one of the key elements of so many subsequent detective novels, the ‘locked room mystery’ – no way in, and no way out: the doors and windows securely fastened, yet a murder has been committed there and the perpetrator gone.
In The Mystery of Marie Rogêt (1843), Poe takes the real case of the murder of Mary Rogers from America, and fictionalizes it, changing the setting to Paris. Dupin solves a case that had not been solved in reality at the time the story was written, and Poe suggests that his methods could perhaps be applied with positive results to the original case that inspired his story. It is armchair ‘detection’, simply deducing the solution from the material presented to him such as newspaper cuttings, police reports, etc. No legwork required.
The Purloined Letter (1844) contains another classic situation of the detective genre, the most unlikely solution turning out to be the correct one. When others are blind to the obvious it is Dupin who ‘sees’ the evidence.
Notes by David Timson
Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1809. After his father deserted the family and his mother died of tuberculosis when he was two, Poe was cared for by John and Frances Allan, hence his middle name.
Educated in a number of institutions but unable to fit in, he enlisted in the military in 1827, rising to the rank of sergeant major. Eager to conform, he went to West Point to train as an officer, but was expelled due to his increasingly intemperate behavior. Though writing stories on a regular basis by now, he was destitute.
In 1836 he controversially married his 13-year-old cousin, who died of tuberculosis after six years of poverty with her husband. Never able to recover from this loss, he descended into the maelstrom of drink and drugs, becoming the haunted figure of his own imagination. It took another generation after his death in 1849 to discover this lost genius, whose literary skill had invented the genres of the detective story and science fiction.
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