Text: Roberta Sharp, “Poe's Duplicitous Dupin,” Masques, Mysteries and Mastodons: A Poe Miscellany (2006), pp. 63-76 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 63, unnumbered:]


Roberta Sharp

Poe’s famous sleuth, Dupin, has long enjoyed a reputation of being the prototype of fictional detectives and even of having supernatural powers,(1) but recent readings of the three tales in which he plays a part have taken a fresh look at Dupin and suggested implausibilities in his method. Burton Pollin, for example, examined Dupin’s solution to “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and found that “whimsy, unreality, improbability are all prevalent to the very end, even though justice is not done to the criminally careless”.(2) Even Dupin’s solution to the murders, particularly his assumption of the sailor’s innocence, can be questioned because the sailor’s culpability may be more than criminal carelessness. In “The Mystery of Marie Roget,” Poe’s serialized sequel that closely parallels an actual case, Dupin points evidence away from a gang of murderers, the popular theory as suggested by the press, and toward a sailor. In another sequel, “The Purloined Letter,” Poe has Dupin demonstrate that, to solve the mystery of the stolen missile, the letter must be reversed. These later tales may well be, in part, a commentary on “Murders.” Dennis Eddings observed that “whatever else they may be about, the Dupin tales are also about how to read Poe, with the reader’s position to the text analogous to Dupin’s position to the crimes he solves.”(3)

Dupin is manifested in the tales as diabolic as well as godlike. In “Murders” (1841), he is “enamored of the Night for her own sake” (M 2:532), and in “Marie Roget” and “The Purloined Letter” he wears dark glasses. Like the Devil in “Bon-Bon,” who also wears green glasses but has no eyes, Dupin allegedly can read minds. While the Devil in “Bon-Bon” explains only what the cat is thinking, Dupin in “Murders” astounds the narrator by tracing his thoughts in an obscure chain of reasoning by association. Although it is tempting to skip over these introductory passages for Dupin’s dramatic solution of the murders, the seemingly casual chain of ideas demonstrates what Poe suggests may be “an excited. . .or diseased intelligence” (M 2:532). These associations should intensify a reader’s awareness of the “double Dupin,” whose mind-reading feat so dazzles the narrator that he does not question the solution to the murders.

During his preliminary conversation with the narrator in which they have been discussing horses, Dupin recites his reconstruction (in reverse order) of the complicated chain of associations: “Chantilly, [page 64:] Orion, Dr. Nichols, Epicurus, Stereotomy, the street stones, the fruiterer” (M 2:535). Harriet Holman believes that the first link in the chain, the fruiterer, is a reference to Longfellow, a connection she makes through a reference from Hyperion. On the basis of several circumstantial associations, she also considers the actor Chantilly, described as a “little fellow,” to be “a satiric diminutive for Longfellow.”(4) If Holman is correct, the details create a great circle of thought, a form of reasoning Poe disparages in an 1848 “Marginalia” entry as a “gross error” (P 2:324). In the circle of thought, the fruit peddler suggests the idea of street stones, which is the subject of Poe’s journalistic “Street Paving” article advocating the superiority of wooden blocks over stones for paving because the stones were noisy and damaging to the hooves of horses.(5) This pedestrian topic leads to the thought of stereotomy (stonecutting) or, as Dupin puts it, “a term very affectedly applied to this species of pavement.” Making a leap which has the “air of intuition,” Dupin informs the narrator that he knows the word stereotomy will bring the narrator to think of “‘atomies, and thus of the theories of Epicurus’” (M 2:536). Apparently Dupin associates the individual stones of the pavement with “atomies.”

Poe’s attitude toward Epicurus is a complicated subject, one that proves to be fundamental to what he later does in Eureka. In the early “Folio Club” tale “Bon-Bon,” the Devil claims to have been the author of the works attributed to Epicurus. According to Alexander Hammond, De Rerum Natura, Esqr. (a character who like the devil in “Bon-Bon,” also wears dark glasses) tells this tale. Hammond links the theories of Epicurus with atoms through Lucretius, who presented the theories of Epicurus in his De Rerum Natura and who held that “the soul is composed of atoms and is therefore material.”(6) Holman suggests that “there is little reason to suppose that Poe had much respect for Epicurus or anything Epicurean including his ‘true Epicurean atoms’.”(7)

Dupin’s musing about his recent discussion with the narrator recalls with “how little notice the vague guesses of that noble Greek [Epicurus] had met with confirmation in the late nebular cosmogony” (M 2:536). This passage links Epicurus with the nebular theory; moreover, Frederick W. Conner establishes Poe’s “curious antagonism” toward Nichol and shows that Poe used the name “‘Dr. Nichols’. . .interchangeably with the nebular theory.”(8) The reference is to John Pringle Nichol, author of Views of the Architecture of the [page 65:] Heavens in a Series of Letters to a Lady (1837). A few years later in “Plato Contra Atheos” (1845) Poe slightingly referred to “the nebula star-dust of Nichols,” which he links with “the laws of Combe” and “the noise of Bacon” (P 3: 154). It must be granted that it was not until after the 1841 publication of “Murders” that the nebular theory was thought to have been proved false by the powerful telescope developed by Lord Rosse; however, the ideas were obviously very much on Poe’s mind earlier and evidently in doubt. Conner (p. 204) shows that the “test case” for the nebular theory was the nebula in Orion, which is the next link. Holman (p. 36) traces the thought full circle:

And from this Epicurean, nebular theory and the nebula of Orion-Orion, the thought went on to Chantilly — that is Longfellow, who had been admired and puffed by the clustering members of the Boston coterie and their satellites everywhere. The fact that his chain of thoughts ends where it begins — in allusion to Longfellow — arouses the suspicion that Poe meant to imply that the circumference of the circuit is zero and that its components amount to nil.

Dupin himself links Orion with Chantilly (M 2:536), who had “attempted the role of Xerxes, in Crebillon’s tragedy” (M 2:534). Dupin carries the associations over into “The Purloined Letter,” where he quotes some lines from another Crebillon play. Interestingly enough, Poe apparently did not share Dupin’s enthusiasm for the author because he wrote in “Marginalia”: “It [‘The Age of Reason’] is the half-profound, half-silly, and wholly irrational composition of a very clever, very ignorant, and laughable impudent fellow — ‘ingeniosus puer, sed insignis nebulo,’ as the Jesuits have well described Crebillon” (P 2: 132). The narrator’s unquestioning admiration of Dupin seduces readers into a similar attitude, and Poe’s inclusion of these associations puts the rest of the tale into an ironic context. Although such signals of Poe’s irony are now dated and obscure, contemporary magazine readers could have been aware of the nuances and perhaps not readily intimidated by Dupin’s show of mindreading. G. R. Thompson observes that the “Dupin kind of mentality” functions in the detective fiction by assuming

a godlike omniscience; the narrative “I” and the reader, the role of dull-witted dupes. The major ironies of these tales are consistent with Poe’s more clearly Gothic tales: their basis is [page 66:] the discrepancy between appearance and actuality; and the ease of Dupin’s solutions contrasts with our mystification, as in the extravagant train of association in “Murders in The Rue Morgue” whereby Dupin guesses what his friend is thinking, or as in the absurdly simple irony in ‘The Purloined Letter’ of hiding an object in plain sight where no one would think of looking for it.(9)

It is not exactly the intricate maze of reason and detail through which Dupin leads us with which I would quarrel, for if his premises are granted, his conclusions would seem to follow. It is, rather, Dupin’s facile dismissal of the possibility of the sailor’s guilt in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” My clue to this possibility comes from Poe himself, who, in an 1846 review of Les Mystéres de Paris (1842-43), by Eugene Sue, remarks on the French author’s story which reminds Poe of his own (P 3: 295):

But I say I was surprised in coming upon this story — and I was so, because one of its points has been suggested to M. Sue by a tale of my own. Coupe en Deux has an ape remarkable for its size, strength, ferocity and propensity to imitation. Wishing to commit a murder so cunningly that discovery would be impossible, the master of this animal teaches it to imitate the functions of a barber, and incites it to cut the throat of a child, under the idea that, when the murder is discovered, it will be considered the uninstigated deed of the ape.

On first seeing this, I felt apprehensive that some of my friends would accuse me of plagiarizing from it my “Murders in the Rue Morgue.” But I soon called to mind that this latter was first published in “Graham’s Magazine” for April, 1841.

Poe saw Sue’s story of a murder passed off as the uninstigated act of an animal so similar to his own tale that he raised the question of plagiarism. That Poe saw such an affinity raises the question of whether the murders in his tale should be considered uninstigated.

Observance of the sailor’s body language through a close reading of the tale suggests his culpability. In the introduction, the narrator points out that the shrewd player of games “examines the countenance” and “notes every variation of face” in the other players (M 2:530). He also asserts that the narrative “will appear to the reader somewhat in the light of a commentary” (M 2:531). But Dupin apparently ignores the facial responses of the sailor emphasized by the narrative. Before the [page 67:] sailor’s arrival at their apartment, Dupin tells the narrator that the person(10) he awaits, “although perhaps not the perpetrator of these butcheries, must have been in some measure implicated in their perpetration” (M 2:548). Dupin does not give the narrator or the reader any specific reasons for assuming the sailor innocent; rather, he arms himself and his companion with pistols. When the sailor, after some hesitation, enters the apartment, he comes armed with a club. (The two physicians testified that the older woman appeared to have been clubbed). As Dupin begins to converse about the animal, the sailor appears “relieved of some intolerable burden” (M 2:562); but when Dupin first mentions the murders, along with locking the door and drawing his pistol, “the sailor’s face flushed up as if he were struggling with suffocation.” After first reaching for his weapon, “he fell back into his seat, trembling violently, and with the countenance of death itself.” Even though the sailor behaved as if he might be guilty, Dupin, taking the law into his own hands, assures him that “I perfectly well know that you are innocent of these atrocities” (M 2:563). At once the sailor recovered his composure and gave his version of the affair.

When the sailor perceived that he was not being accused of murder, he accounted for the crime as if it had been perpetrated solely by the orangutan. On the night of the murders he returned to his room from a “sailor’s frolic” and found that the animal had broken out of the closet. “Razor in hand, and fully lathered, it was sitting before a looking-glass, attempting the operation of shaving, in which it had no doubt previously watched its master through the key-hole of the closet” (M 2:567). Despite this comic touch, the sailor’s story raises numerous questions: What other behaviors did the animal learn from the sailor? Did the sailor teach the orangutan to kill people? Did the master or the ape cling to the lightning rod while the other perpetrated the crime? Or did they both participate in the atrocity? Did the ape or the man close the window as he left the scene? The narrator’s claim that the animal must have closed the window (M. 2:568) seems, after all, just too farfetched to accept. Dupin’s equivocation only adds to the mystification: “Dropping of its own accord. . .(or perhaps purposely closed)” (M 2:553-554).

Behind Dupin’s smokescreen, only the sailor’s own story attests his innocence. It is possible that any mischief done by the ape was at the sailor’s instigation. The sailor claimed that he stopped at the lightning rod and watched from there, but Dupin, who insists on probabilities, should consider the probability that a wild animal loose in a strange city [page 68:] at three a.m. would seek out these people, living four stories above ground to murder.(11) It seems more probable that the sailor entered the room, perhaps enticed by the light; his access would have been possible according to Dupin’s explanation that the opened shutter would “reach to within two feet of the lightning rod” (M 2:554) and also according to Poe’s own carefully-wrought changes in the manuscript.(12) Dupin’s guise so effectively overlooks alternate possibilities and discounts motive that conscience is even attributed to the animal: “Conscious of having deserved punishment, it seemed desirous of concealing its bloody deeds.. . .It seized first the corpse of the daughter, and thrust it up the chimney, as it was found; then that of the old lady, which it immediately hurled through the window headlong” (M 2:567). Perhaps it is only coincidental that the two physicians testified that the body of the older woman looked as if it had been struck with a “heavy club of wood” (M 2:544) and that the sailor carried a wooden club, but the sailor’s blamelessness is indeed difficult to accept. As for Dupin’s dismissal of motive, if the sailor instigated the deed, his motive could have been sex(13) or money, or both. The fact that the money was still in the apartment could simply indicate that the intruder did not manage to escape with it, perhaps because the neighbors and gendarmes were breaking in the door to investigate the screams (M 2:537).

To quibble over whether the sailor literally participated in the mayhem or whether he was merely responsible for the animal that committed it may be to miss the essential point. Given the “imitative propensities”of the animal, he and the sailor become another of Poe’s doubles with bestial traits in common. While the animal could imitate the sailor’s ritual of shaving, the “tall, stout, muscular-looking” sailor was adept at climbing and probably physically capable of doing almost anything the orangutan could do. This pair could accomplish a reversal of roles as do the inmates and the keepers (disguised as orangutans) in”The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether.” Ironically, the narrator’s intuitive response — “A madman. . .has done the deed — some raving maniac, escaped from a neighboring Maison de Santé” (M 2:558) — may be closer to the truth than Dupin’s ratiocination. As super-sleuth, then, Dupin is appropriately named,(14) for it can be argued that he has duped many readers with his display of reasoning. If this is the case, the narrator, too, leads the reader astray in being gullible and too easily taken in by Dupin’s erudition and in overlooking the alternatives to Dupin’s explanation. Given his love of a hoax, Poe must [page 69:] have chuckled over Dupin’s final remark about the Prefect of Police, a remark quite applicable to the detective himself: “‘I like him especially for one master stroke of cant, by which he has attained his reputation for ingenuity. I mean the way he has “de nier ce qui est,et d’expliquer ce qui n’est pas’” (M 2:568): “To deny what is, and explain what is not” (M 2:574, n. 41).

The fact that Dupin reappears to accuse a sailor of murder in a sequel and companion case may be more than coincidental. In “Murders,” Dupin exonerates a sailor who may well have been guilty of instigating a murder; in “Marie Roget,” he implicates a naval officer, who may or may not have had a real life parallel. Poe claimed in an 1848 letter to George Eveleth that a “naval officer” had confessed to the murder of Mary Rogers (O 355-356), but Mabbott discounts this claim as “mystification” (M 3:788, n. 120) and points out that there was no actual confession as Poe claimed (M 3:722). Burton Pollin says of Poe’s claim that a naval officer murdered Mary Rogers: “it was either a slight hoax on Poe’s part or an indication of his belief that unexplained deaths are likely to be produced by seamen if not by the sea.”(15)

The actual facts in the murder case of Mary Rogers on which Poe based his story of Marie Roget have provided subject matter for much speculation about her still-mysterious death. In addition to numerous articles on the subject, two book-length studies treat the actual murder case in relation to Poe’s parallel fictional treatment of it. John Walsh’s study, the first of the two books published, concludes: “In the light of what has been demonstrated on these pages, The Mystery of Marie Roget must be counted, finally, as nothing more or less than a classic performance in the annals of literary hugger-mugger.”(16) Because Walsh accepts the explanation that Mary died accidentally as the result of an abortion attempt, he sees Poe’s claim that Dupin solved a murder mystery to be a bit of chicanery. In his book, Raymond Paul disagrees with Walsh as to the cause of the girl’s death, but agrees, in essence, as to Poe’s place in the maze. He feels that as a fiction writer Poe was free to adapt the events to suit his purposes, but that Poe twisted logic in such a way that his claim to solving the crime is invalid.(17) Despite the books, articles, and stories written about the mystery, the crime has not been unquestionably solved.

As in “Murders,” Dupin chooses “seemingly irrelevant” details on which to base his case from newspaper accounts. Poe apparently seized the idea of the involvement of a “naval officer” in the case from a [page 70:] gossipy note in the Herald of 3 August 1841, which was about a week after the discovery of Mary’s body: “This young girl, Mary Rogers, was missing from Anderson’s store three years ago for two weeks. It is asserted that she was then seduced by an officer of the U. S.Navy, and kept at Hoboken for two weeks. His name is well known onboard his ship.” After quoting the above passage, Walsh notes (p. 44): “The vital element in this, for Poe, was the naval officer (he was, of course, consciously rejecting the alternate explanations for Mary’s earlier disappearance).”

Despite rumors and new evidence in the actual case, Poe clung to his fictional sailor as the perpetrator of the deed. He published the first two installments of “Marie Roget” in Snowden’s Ladies’ Companion in November and December of 1842, but the final installment was delayed until February 1843. Walsh (pp. 65-66) has established that the explanation of the delay may have been that Poe became aware of the rumors about the case which were revived at the death of Mrs. Loss (Madame Deluc). These rumors involved the possibility that Mary may have died as the result of an abortion attempt. Except for the possible insertion of some equivocation about whether or not the thicket was the actual scene of the murder, Poe apparently did not make the changes which would accommodate the abortion theory. Paul insists that Poe had the opportunity to change his last installment to make his solution coincide with this theory (p. 111). Even though the possibility of death by abortion is implicit in Poe’s revision, the story still implicates the “naval officer” by leaving the vague possibility that the sailor and the abortionist were the same person.

On the surface, the third Dupin tale, “The Purloined Letter,” is less a mystery than it is a domestic squabble, but Dupin does find the letter which was, after all, in plain sight all the time. To his credit, he found something that was overlooked despite the meticulous and methodical searching by the police, but so much fuss over something so trivial as a letter stolen from a lady’s boudoir suggests a mock-heroic dimension despite (or perhaps because of) the repeated references to the gravity of the situation. Rather than being simply stolen, the letter was purloined just as Belinda’s curl was not simply snipped from her head in “The Rape of the Lock.” The motto attributed to Seneca which translates “nothing is more hateful to wisdom than too much cunning” (M 3:993) is appropriate to the mock-heroic tone of the story. The motto is also a reminder of Dupin’s allusions to Crebillon in “Murders” and tends to complete the circle of thought Dupin outlined at the beginning of that [page 71:] tale. The tales, particularly the first and last, are connected in many ways other than by the characters. Numerous parallels and allusions link “The Purloined Letter” with the earlier tales.

The narrator of “The Purloined Letter,” in fact, seems insistent about reminding readers of Dupin’s earlier exploits. The tale may be in part another skirmish in the Poe-Longfellow war. The narrator’s observation that “there are two brothers, I know; and both have attained reputation in letters” (M 3:986) suggests the meaning of letter as literature. Sidney Moss points out that on 30 March 1844, Poe wrote Lowell a letter protesting having been accused by the Foreign Quarterly Review of imitating Tennyson, whose first published book was entitled Poems by Two Brothers (1827). Furthermore, according to Moss, the same article praised Longfellow as the exception to the pattern of plagiarism and imitation European critics found in American writers.(18) Such remarks undoubtedly incensed Poe, who had accused Longfellow in 1840 of plagiarizing Tennyson in a way “too palpable to be mistaken, and which belongs to the most barbarous class of literary robbery: that class in which, while the words of the wronged author are avoided, his most intangible, and therefore his least defensible and least reclaimable property is purloined.” Readers may recall Dupin’s oblique Longfellow allusions in the chain of associations in the opening part of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.”

More directly, the narrator refers to both the earlier tales in the opening passages of “The Purloined Letter”: “For myself, however, I was mentally discussing certain topics which had formed matter for conversation between us at an earlier period of the evening; I mean the affair of the Rue Morgue, and the mystery attending the murder of Marie Roget” (M 3:974). In those instances Dupin worked inductively, his solutions having the “air” of intuition. But Dupin explains that he has discarded this methodical approach: “What is all this boring, and probing, and sounding, and scrutinizing with the microscope, and dividing the surface of the building into registered square inches — what is it all but an exaggeration of the application of one principle or set of principles of search, which are based upon the one set of notions regarding human ingenuity, to which the Prefect, in the long routine of his duty, has been accustomed” (M 3:985)? Dupin, thereafter, proceeds deductively after rejecting the Prefect’s fallacious premise that all poets are fools.

The fact that both Dupin and the Minister D — reason as poets and mathematicians magnifies the doubleness of character and incident in [page 72:] “The Purloined Letter.” The numerous similarities between Dupin and the Minister D— are not easily overlooked, but some of the structural parallels may be less obvious. Liahna Babener’s study points out that the structural doublings consist of duplication of practically every important action, including two interviews between the Prefect and Dupin, two meetings between Dupin and D—, two inspections of D—‘s dwelling, two searches of D— in the streets, and two incidents where a letter is stolen and a copy left in its place. “There are also two instances of ‘blackmail’: the Minister’s against ‘a personage of most exalted station,’ and Dupin’s of the Prefect to obtain payment for his assistance.” On the basis of these pairings, one of Babener’s conclusions is that “If Dupin and D— are intellectual counterparts, they are more significantly moral equivalents, whose motives and methods are equally dubious from an ethical standpoint.”(19) Dupin’s own logical premise of identification with his adversary’s intellect makes him kindred to D—, whom he describes as “that monstrum horrendum, an unprincipled man of genius” (M 3:993). Jacques Lacan suggests that the discussion of poets and mathematicians creates a diversion that keeps readers from asking “how it happened that the letter was not found anywhere, or . . . that the letter escaped detection, since the area combed did in fact contain it.”(20)

The diversion may also keep readers from noting details embedded in the tale that suggest parallels between the placement of the letter and the discovery of the bodies in “Murders.” Dupin found the letter in a most unlikely place: it was in a card-rack that “hung dangling by a dirty blue ribbon from a little brass knob just beneath the middle of the mantle-piece. . . . (The letter} was thrust carelessly, and even as it seemed, contemputuously, into one of the upper divisions of the rack” (M 3:990-991). Comparably, strands of Madame L’Espanaye’s hair are found on the hearth and the body of the younger woman was thrust into the chimney. Another parallel is that a small “greasy” ribbon provides Dupin with the clue that leads him to the sailor in “Murders.” These connections make clear that the Dupin tales should be read as a trilogy. Perhaps Poe the cryptographer is suggesting a hidden message to readers: the literal reversal of the letter in the third tale may metaphorically suggest a reversal of the ostensible outcome of the first concerning the culpability of the sailor. Eddings’s observation about the tales suggests that the reader must deal with the ambiguities and play a part in the solution: “Poe constructed the Dupin tales in such a manner as to present a mystery for readers that resembles the mystery [page 73:] within the tale. The critical method employed by Dupin thus becomes identical with the method the reader must employ in resolving Poe’s mystery” (p. 134). The reader must see beyond Dupin’s ratiocination.

Lacan’s application of Freud’s belief in the language of the unconscious to “The Purloined Letter” has provoked much debate applicable to the tale and provides some new insights. John Muller and William Richardson see Lacan’s reading of the story as an “interplay between three subjective positions: one subject sees nothing,. . .a second subject ‘sees’ that the first subject sees nothing but. . .is unaware of being ‘seen’ in turn; a third subject sees that the first two subjects leave ‘what should be hidden exposed to whomever would seize it’ and capitalizes on this fact” (p. 59). Dupin, of course, capitalizes on his detection by claiming the reward, but readers must go even one step further to see beyond his legerdemain. Lacan’s insight may help readers put the detective in perspective: “Is not the magician repeating his trick before our eyes, without deceiving us this time about divulging his secret, but pressing his wager to the point of really explaining it to us without us seeing a thing? That would be the summit of the illusionist’s art: through one of his fictive creations to truly delude us” (p. 37).

Poe apparently retired Dupin after “The Purloined Letter,” but he did not forget him entirely. In a letter dated 9 August 1846, Poe, perhaps not wanting to be overshadowed by his own creation, wrote to Philip Cooke:

You are right about the hair-splitting of my French friend: — that is all done for effect. These tales of ratiocination owe most of their popularity to being something in a new key. I do not mean to say that they are not ingenious — but people think them more ingenious than they are — on account of their method and air of method. In the ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue,’ for instance, where is the ingenuity of unravelling a web which you yourself (the author) have woven for the express purpose of unravelling? The reader is made to confound the ingenuity of the suppositious Dupin with that of the writer of the story. (O 328)

Poe clearly enjoyed his illustrious character, Dupin, who brought him credit for inventing the genre of detective fiction. For all his duplicipty, Dupin is one of Poe’s most successful fictional creations and the inspiration for many fictional detectives since.


[page 74:]


1.  See, for example, Robert Daniel, “Poe’s Detective God,” Furioso 6 (1951) 45-51; rpt. William L. Howarth, ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Poe’s Tales (Englewood Cliffs, 1971) pp. 103-110; Benjamin Franklin Fisher, IV, “Blackwood Articles à la Poe: How to Make a False Start Pay,” Revue des Langues Vivantes 39 (1973) 418-432, rpt., revised, Perspectives on Poe, ed. D. Ramakrishna (New Delhi, 1996) 63-82; and Joseph J. Moldenhauer, “Murder as a Fine Art: Basic Connections between Poe’s Aesthetics, Psychology, and Moral Vision,” PMLA, 83 (1968) 284-297.

2.  Burton R. Pollin, Poe’s ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’: The Ingenious Web Unravelled,” SAR 1977 p. 260.

3.  Dennis W. Eddings, “Poe, Dupin, and the Reader,” UMSE n. s. 3 (1982) 128-129.

4.  Harriet R. Holman, “Longfellow in ‘The Rue Morgue,’” ESQ No. 60 Suppl. (1970); rpt. New Approaches to Poe: A Symposium, ed. Richard P. Benton (Hartford, 1970) pp. 58-9.

5.  Although not published until 1845, Poe’s “Street Paving” article advocates, as an experiment, the kind of wooden pavement which causes the narrator to smile.

6.  Alexander Hammond, “A Reconstruction of Poe’s 1833 Tales of the Folio Club: Preliminary Notes,” PoeS 5 (1972) 27-28.

7.  Harriet R. Holman, “Splitting Poe’s ‘Epicurean Atoms’: Further Speculation on the Literary Satire of Eureka,” PoeS 5 (1972) 34.

8.  Frederick W. Conner, “Poe & John Nichol: Notes on a Source of Eureka,” in All These to Teach: Essays in Honor of C.A. Robertson, ed. Robert A. Bryan, et al. (Gainesville, Fl., 1965) p. 190.

9.  G.R. Thompson, Poe’s Fiction: Romantic Irony in the Gothic Tales (Madison, Wis., 1972) pp. 174-175.

10.  Dupin refers to the perpetrator of the atrocities in the plural for several paragraphs in explaining this theory to the narrator: “murderers,” “doers of the deed,” “assassins” (M 2: 551). Later he shifts to the singular.

11.  Richard Wilbur commented on the numerous improbabilities surrounding the events: “This ambiguity of Dupin, together with various unlikelihoods in the narrative. . .should make the reader receptive to [page 75:] suggestions that an allegorical ‘under current’ flows beneath the detective tale” in “The Poe Mystery Case,” New York Review of Books 13 July 1967 p. 26. Laura Riding found many inconsistencies in the account of the entrance of the intruder or intruders into the room, especially concerning the hidden spring in the window in Contemporaries and Snobs (Garden City, N. Y., 1928) pp. 217-219.

12.  Poe changed the distance from the shutter to the lightning rod several times, but finally settled on “two feet and a half.” He also changed the text to read, in reference to the scene of the murder, that the door was “locked with the key on the inside.” About the first change, Ernest Boll observes that “the object of the correction was to put the performance within the abilities of an agile human being” in “The Manuscript of ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue,’ and Poe’s Revisions,” MP 40 (May 1943) 311. See also, Joel K. Asarch, “A Telling Tale: Poe’s Revisions in ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue,’” LC 41 (1976) 83-90.

13.  LeMay’s study characterizes Dupin as “an incredible egghead, an intellectual blind to the facts of life.. . .The murderer is a psychotic sexmaniac.” J.A. Leo LeMay, “The Psychology of ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” AL (1982) 178.

14.  The source of the name Dupin has not been incontroveribly established, but Buford Jones and Kent Ljungquist present persuasive evidence that Poe’s model may have been Andre-Marie-Jean-Jacques Dupin. “The guilty he saved — left the innocent in” was a line from a popular jingle about this notorious lawyer, who defended guilty men in 1816 and in 1821 — “Monsieur Dupin: Further Details on the Reality Behind the Legend,” SLJ 9 (1976) 70-77.

15.  Burton R. Pollin, Discoveries in Poe (Notre Dame, 1970) p. 158.

16.  John Walsh, Poe the Detective: The Curous Circumstances Behind “The Mystery of Marie Rôget,” (New Brunswick, N.J., 1968) p. 73.

17.  Raymond Paul, Who Murdered Mary Rogers? (Englewood Cliffs, 1971) pp. 87-88.

18.  Sidney P. Moss, Poe’s Literary Battles (Durham, N.C., 1963) pp. 157 n. 7, 158. See also Poe, Essays and Reviews, ed. G. R. Thompson (New York, 1984) p. 678, for the hit at Longfellow, which follows.

19.  Liahna Klenman Babener, “The Shadow’s Shadow: The Motif of the Double in Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Purloined Letter,’” Mystery and Detection Annual, ed. Donald Adams (Pasadena, 1972) pp. 25, 26. [page 76:]

20.  John P. Muller and William J. Richardson, eds. The Purloined Poe: Lacan, Derrida & Psychoanalytic Reading (Baltimore, 1988) p. 38.






[S:0 - MMM, 2006] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Masques, Mysteries and Mastodons: A Poe Miscellany (Poe's Duplicitous Dupin)