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The Murders in the Rue Morgue

The earliest of Poe's Detective Fiction, The Murder in the Rue Morgue, defined the classic “locked room” puzzle.  Introducing the character of Dupin, Edgar Allen Poe begins the story with an introductory essay on the nature of analysis. The Murders in the Rue MorgueThe events in the story are intended to be illustrative, demonstrating Poe’s initial assertion that analytical ability and ingenuity do not necessarily co-exist.  The brutal murder of an elderly woman and her daughter inside a secured room confounds local law enforcement officials.  Dupin, the brilliant but eccentric detective, possessing a wealth of knowledge on subjects ranging from “Rousseau to the nebular cosmogony,” carefully deduces that the perpetrator is an orangutan brought to Paris by a sailor.

Poe knows the power of the appearance of mathematical reasoning; it is so impressive to the reader in conveying a sense of the organized pursuit of truth that it can overcome the reader’s disbelief with respect to the facts being used. There are times, however, when Poe seems to overdo this aspect of his art. The Murders In The Rue Morgue opens with a discussion of the analytical cast of mind, that type of mind which “glories... in that moral activity which disentangles”.

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