Edgar Allan Poe invented the detective story
Edgar Allan Poe invented the detective story A copy of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." (Vanda Mesiarikova/Wiki Commons/ Samuel Stillman Osgood/National Portrait Gallery)
Edgar Allan Poe invented the detective story
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Edgar Allan Poe introduced the world to C. Auguste Dupin. He hit on a winning formula.

Dupin was Sherlock Holmes before Sherlock Holmes. He a genius detective. He first appeared in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” published in 1841. That story is the first locked-room mystery. As Holmes might say, the game's afoot. Poe didn't give Dupin a nifty catchphrase.

The roots of the detective story go as far back as Shakespeare. That's according to historians Helena Markovi? and Biliana Oklop?i?. Poe’s tales of rational crime-solving created a genre. They wrote that his stories mix crime with a detective narrative. It revolves around solving the puzzle of the “whodunit.” It invites readers to try to solve the puzzle too.

The key figure in such a story is the detective. Poe’s detective also appears in “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” and “The Purloined Letter.” They set the stage for that character. Dupin is a gentleman of leisure who has no need to work. He keeps himself occupied by using “analysis.” He helps the real police solve crimes. The real police are, of course, absolutely incompetent. This is like Inspector Lestrade, an officer at Scotland Yard. He is in the stories with Holmes.

Dupin smokes a meerschaum pipe. He is generally eccentric, like his literary descendant. He’s also unnaturally smart and rational. He's a kind of superhero who uses powers of thinking. This lets him accomplish great feats of crime-solving. The story's narrator is his roommate. He is literally following the detective around. But Dupin’s roommate is unlike John Watson. He remains a nameless “I.” This is true in all three stories. 

Poe introduced a number of elements in the Dupin tales. One was the friendly narrator. That would remain common to detective stories, write Markovi? and Oklop?i?. 

“The elements Poe invented are many. They include the reclusive genius detective. His ‘ordinary’ helper and the impossible crime. They also include the incompetent police force, the armchair detection. The locked room mystery, etc. All have become firmly embedded in most mystery novels of today,” the historians write. 

Arthur Conan Doyle was the creator of Sherlock. He acknowledged Poe's influence. "Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?" he wrote.

Poe’s formula appealed in the nineteenth century because detective stories promised that reasoning could hold the answer to every question. At the same time they had spooky overtones. This appealed to nineteenth century readers' preoccupations with the occult.

The detective story was particularly appealing because it promised that “intellect will triumph, the crook will be confounded by the rational sleuth. Science will track down the malefactors and allow honest souls to sleep at night.” That's according to Ben MacIntyre writing for The Times of London. 

MacIntyre also wrote that at the same time, there were nineteenth century anxieties about the Industrial Revolution. And new ways of living supported the idea that evil was anonymous and everywhere. These two instincts—"faith in reason and mistrust of appearance"—are what made Victorians love detective stories. It is a love that endures today.

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween56/edgar-allan-poe-invented-detective-story/

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How might literature be different without the works of Edgar Allan Poe?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (23)
  • AaliyahG-dec
    5/24/2019 - 12:14 p.m.

    I think its cool that he was Sherlock Holmes before Sherlock Holmes.

  • BraunsenW-bad
    10/24/2019 - 09:00 a.m.

    Life might be all messed up.

  • ZinP-bad1
    10/24/2019 - 09:01 a.m.

    I think that is good because some time you don’t know what you gonna see so i think that is good idea.

  • NashaiJ-bad1
    10/24/2019 - 09:03 a.m.

    He was one of the first writers to develop the genre of both detective fiction and horror. And he is really good now everyone has amazing literature to read and it will be fun.

  • OhS-bad
    10/24/2019 - 09:06 a.m.

    Literature might be different because he might have never learned it

  • ChomaL-bad1
    10/24/2019 - 09:08 a.m.

    Literature might have been different without the works of Edgar Allan Poe because literature wouldn’t express lessons or morals through stories, such as detective stories promised that reasoning could hold the answer to every question. Literature is loved because of how it expresses how the writer feels somehow. “ Faith in reason and mistrust in appearance” teaches a lesson in what life brings, literature might been boring because of no sense of mystery.

  • UW-bad1
    10/24/2019 - 09:08 a.m.

    I think literature well be different by They why that they well preform that they might not do same ting going to be different.

  • MiracleW-bad3
    10/24/2019 - 09:09 a.m.

    Not having modern literature could be different because without modern literature we wouldn't know most things we no now days soo i really think modern literature .

  • SoeM-bad
    10/24/2019 - 09:09 a.m.

    The works of the pome is that the pome has a meaning and it’s meaning is the peruse the reader so then they can understand the fact about the pome

  • GiovaniM-bad
    10/24/2019 - 09:16 a.m.

    Because it can teach Allan Poe new things.

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