Text: Richard Fusco, “Fin de Millénaire: Poe’s Legacy for the Detective Story,” Baltimore: The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, 1993


­ [title page:]

Poe’s Legacy for the Detective Story


Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia

­ [page ii, unnumbered:]


The only substantive change I have made in my essay since I first presented it to the Poe Society on 7 October, 1990, was to insert a discussion of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon which time then prevented me from including. I do thank Dr. Benjamin F. Fisher IV, of the University of Mississippi, Dr. Martha Turner, of San Jose State University, and Mr. Jeffrey Savoye, of the Baltimore Poe Society, for their attentive reading and kind recommendations. I have used the following abbreviations to cite primary works in the text:

ACD = Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Annotated Sherlock Holmes, 2 vols., ed. William S. Baring-Gould (New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1967).

DH = Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon (1929; rpt. New York: Random House, 1972).

EAP = Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, 3 vols., ed. Thomas Ollive Mabbott (Cambridge: Belknap, 1969-78).

RC1 = Raymond Chandler, The Simple Art of Murder (1950; rpt. New York: Ballantine, 1972).

RC2 = Raymond Chandler, Trouble Is My Business (1950; rpt. New York: Ballantine, 1972).

WC = Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone (1868; rpt. New York: Penguin, 1966).

One final note — borrowing a cheap trick from Ibsen, I placed a small coffer on the table beside the lectern before I began my talk. I hope that sufficiently explains the content of the penultimate paragraph.

* * * * *

­[page 1:]

Nick Nolte once told a story about his first conversation with fellow actor Robert Shaw on the set for the film The Deep. The apprehensive, methodical, intensive, and relatively naive young Nolte wanted to hammer out laboriously such matters as character motivations, plot development, and dozens of other aspects involving technique. Shaw listened patiently for a few minutes, but then with a condescending eye and his best world-wearied brogue, said: “It’s a treasure picture, Nick.”

That sort of attitude has also plagued the critical reputation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Gold-Bug.” When exploring Poe’s place as the father of the modern detective story, when trying to isolate key elements to his concept ratiocination, today’s readers have dissected the Dupin stories word by word so as not to miss any nuance of Poe’s synthesis of induction and deduction. “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Purloined Letter” so dominate our focus that we usually reduce the importance of “The Mystery of Marie Roget,” “Thou Art the Man,” and “The Gold-Bug” to the status of ancillary texts with plots that merely confirm what we already read into the personality of Dupin. We summarily dismiss “Marie Roget” as a fascinating curio, in which Poe tried but failed to solve a real-life murder within the confines of fiction, and thus not meriting the same devoted attention paid to the other two Dupin tales. The burlesque intent in “Thou Art the Man” gives us insight into Poe the artist, especially in his compulsion to repudiate the genre he himself had created, but within the context of ratiocination and the history of the detective story, critics have not felt as comfortable with parody as the authors they study. And “The Gold-Bug” is a treasure hunt, gaining critical attention in isolated studies or in other thematic contexts, but not many commentators have placed William Legrand, the detective figure of the story, on the same archetypical platform as Chevalier August Dupin.(1) We sometimes forget that “The Gold-Bug” enjoyed more success than any other Poe tale during his lifetime; in fact, only his poem “The Raven” surpassed it in popularity.

I submit, however, that reading “The Gold-Bug” is vital in understanding Poe’s notions about ratiocination. Indeed, for me Legrand encapsulates Poe’s conception of his rational self better than the “supposititious” Dupin.(2) Furthermore, the spirit contained in the tale has ­[page 2:] had a sustained influence upon succeeding generations of fictional detectives, several of whom I will discuss later.

In my title I coined the phrase fin de millénaire [end of the millennium] to define this spirit — that is, the sobering vision of the gradual rather than the immediate apocalyptic collapse of the universe. Obviously, this is just a twist of the critical term fin de siécle [end of the century], which continental artists at the end of the nineteenth century used to describe a complex array of sensibilities from decadence to romantic presentiments of imminent doom. During the 1890’s, phenomena such as the collapse of the Bismarckian alliance system and the general foreboding of a cataclysmic war that threatened to end civilization itself certainly nurtured such European hysteria.

Had Poe survived for another decade, he might have arrived at a similar artistic stance amid the political turmoil in the United States prior to the Civil War. This is not to say that Poe did not postulate that all of humanity was doomed. In fact, in many of his tales we witness the protagonist’s last step over the precipice into death. The ratiocinative tales, however, offer us a different picture of Poe’s idea of man’s place in a decaying universe — perhaps a byproduct from Poe’s own life. G. R. Thompson reminds us that most of the detective stories were conceived during the early 1840’s, the happiest period, relatively, in Poe’s adult life. His fame as a writer, critic, and cryptographer was on the rise. He was being paid decently for his editorial duties. His intermittent problem with alcohol was, at least for the moment, under temporary control.(3) Despite all the calamities of his life — the succession of deaths among the women he loved, disinheritance by his foster father, the beggarly and sordid existence in which he often found himself during the 1830’s — in 1841 he imagined that he had survived and, more important, prevailed by virtue not of chance but of his intellect.

In its philosophical essence, the universe must fulfill its nihilistic destiny. Nevertheless, doom resides not in the near but in the far future; thus, man the individual, particularly the intelligent-logical-ratiocinative man, has more room to maneuver, allowing him to mitigate somewhat the dilatory impact of such an [[a]] universe upon him. ­[page 3:]

On a grand philosophical level, Poe did postulate the regression of all things into a primal unity. I have documented elsewhere Poe’s response to five perfectibility theorists of the eighteenth century. Briefly, perfectibilians such as Madame de Staël, Joseph Priestley, and the Marquis de Condorcet speculated that each successive generation of mankind improved its lot over its predecessor: thence, they extrapolated that humanity itself will someday reach an exultant, god-like [[God-like]] state of perfection. Poe obviously disagreed with such optimistic assessments given his annihilation principle, best articulated in Eureka, where he claimed that all things at the moment of their creation contain the seed for their own destruction. In fact, in his correspondence and tales, Poe theorized that the history of mankind proves that the present suffers in comparison with the grandeur and accomplishments of the past, and that the future promises greater ignominy. He believed in a collapsing universe, in which all — man, nature, even God — would eventually converge into oblivion.(4)

What is the role of the individual when confronted by this destiny? Most Poe protagonists succumb to the degradation of the universe — but not so the detectives. C. August Dupin and William Legrand fight this disintegration by attempting to control their environment as wholly as possible. In his landmark essay, Robert Daniel pointed out how Dupin in this attempt begins to assume God-like attributes — in particular, omniscience and judgment.(5)

There is an interesting limitation to this quasi-divine power, however. Because his goal is to demystify a mystery, the detective can at best only achieve a return to parity. Whether it be a heinous crime or the loss of a valued object, a mystery represents, in Poe’s conception, only an increased acceleration in humanity’s descent into oblivion. The solution attempts to return society to its original state, but it cannot improve it. Sometimes, the detective even fails in reclaiming all that was originally lost. Dupin, for instance, does identify the murderer of two women in the Rue Morgue, but his ratiocinative efforts obviously cannot revive the victims.

Given the reclusive, misanthropic personalities of Poe’s detectives, moreover, they seldom place the security of society above their personal edification. They pursue truth — not with the intention or hope of adding to mankind’s knowledge — but only to satiate their own curiosity. ­[page 4:] These quests, then, become a temporary intellectual diversion from the boredom of everyday life. This is what constitutes the attitude I call fin de millénaire: The world is decaying, but so what — annihilation does not lie just seconds away but in the far, far future. Thus, the ratiocinative man (whether it be Dupin in Paris, Legrand in South Carolina, or Poe in Philadelphia) can control the world around him — not for civilization’s benefit, but for his own intellectual amusement. A mystery facilitates a momentary retreat from a monotony of existence, functioning in the manner of a fix for the intellectual addict.

More thoroughly than the Dupin stories, “The Gold-Bug” introduces a central symbol, which approaches a metaphysical conceit, and which allows us to penetrate the barriers of Poe’s pessimistic notion about the individual’s sole logical option to cope with existence. That object is treasure. The title of the tale itself conveys multiple literal and symbolic meanings. On a superficial level, the gold bug is a freak of nature, a beetle with a metallic luster, rare enough to attract an amateur entomologist such as Legrand and even his manumitted servant, Jupiter, who swears that the bug was literally made of gold. Of course, the color of the insect also foreshadows the treasure to be found.

An alternate interpretation of “Gold-Bug,” however, stresses the feverish pursuit of treasure. More than once, the narrator notes Legrand’s “fits of enthusiasm.” Jupiter believes that the insect itself has bitten his employer on the head, thus choosing restless dreams and mutterings about gold. Eventually, Legrand’s gold fever infects both the narrator and Jupiter, but only on one dimension — man’s impulsive, at times reckless, desire for wealth. Legrand is a poor man, who has squandered his family’s fortune. His financial state echoes the dilemmas of Dupin and Poe himself, who felt the sting of John Allan’s disinheritance, which, in effect, denied Poe the quasi-aristocratic life he had been bred to expect. Legrand does search for Captain Kidd’s treasure to end the poverty in which fate had imprisoned him. Perhaps in the early 1840’s, Poe entertained the belief that the intellect, if properly cultivated and employed, could heal the wounds inflicted by the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”(6) ­[page 5:]

As a ratiocinative man, however, Legrand needs more out of this pursuit for treasure than just satisfying his monetary greed. Thus, the gold bug evolves metaphorically into a comprehensive formula for human behavior — designed not for any bloke out of the mob, which Poe the elitist abhorred, but for the superior man, not unlike Emerson’s concept of the great man — except that a Poe ratiocinator would never conceive of himself as a model for others, for he alone could appreciate the fruits of his intelligence.

Legrand, indeed, is a misanthrope. His endeavors could never benefit his fellow man. In his eyes, the fortune he secures does not really improve his destiny; it merely restores the wealth that he had previously lost. It returns him to the life he expected as a youth — it does not elevate him. The millions that Captain Kidd’s treasure bring him cannot alter his reclusive life: to change, Legrand would have to succumb to the tastes of the mob, thus yielding prematurely to the collapse of the universe, to the entropy that saps its order. The intellect, in its romantic isolation, provides the only life vest as the maelstrom of destiny sucks humanity into oblivion.

What nourishes this intellect? In Poe’s philosophy such sustenance certainly does not derive from the acquisition of currency, property, status, or political power. In Legrand’s case he is the most excited, the most inspired when he pursues treasure, not after he has unearthed it. The high-point of this fever occurs at the instant he realizes the true significance contained in the scrap of parchment he chanced upon during his botanical expedition through the Sea Isles of South Carolina. That moment triggers a complex amalgamation of Legrand’s talents to untangle the conundrum that chance entices him with; calling upon, among other factors, 1) his cryptographic acumen to decipher the code on the scroll, 2) his research skills to affix the geographic landmarks mentioned in the map, 3) his knowledge of geometry and surveying to locate where x marks the spot, 4) his insight into human psychology to goad the initially reluctant narrator and Jupiter into accompanying him. The tenuous combination of inductive and deductive methods used to achieve his goal produces an intellectual experience far more complex and interesting than coping with daily life. ­[page 6:]

I argue that this pursuit rewards Legrand more than the treasure itself. We must remember that the excitement after the chest is found is described by the narrator using first-person plural. With one exception, he never gives us a direct account of Legrand’s demeanor after that moment. Instead, he assumes that Legrand feels the same excitement he does and so the narrator uses the erroneously inclusive “we.” From the experience of reading his other gothic tales, however, students of Poe have long learned never to trust the accuracy of a narrator’s account in either its factual or psychological dimension.

Nevertheless, the narrator does betray one small insight about Legrand’s attitude toward his intellectual success. At the moment that the lid of the coffer is opened, his companion reports that “Legrand appeared exhausted with excitement, and spoke very few words” (EAP 3: 826). Thereupon, Poe diverts our attention by shifting to a longer account of Jupiter’s astonishment. Until Legrand recreates the logical chain whence he arrived at his deductions, which concludes the tale, the narrator devotes few sentences on his eccentric friend after they secure the treasure. Caught up in his own elation, the narrator probably finds it difficult to empathize with anyone else, including his companions of the moment.

I see a deeper significance, however, in Legrand’s silence. The completion of the quest also signals the end of the intellectual exercise. The treasure hunt served as a temporary respite from the travails of life, and now its discovery marks Legrand’s re-emergence into that tedious existence. For a brief span, the ratiocinator had manipulated his environment through the powers of his mind. Chance had placed a challenge before him, and he had the capability to recognize the significance underlying a string of coincidences. Indeed, there are enough coincidences in “The Gold-Bug” to make even Thomas Hardy blush. In Poe’s view, however, the average dull-witted, unthinking man from the mob, cleverly embodied by the narrator of the tale, overlooks the possibilities in such happenstances. Only the artist can arrange such evidence into a plausible causal chain that, in effect, recreates the past, unearths a lost truth.

As I have said, these discoveries, considered within Poe’s conception of man’s lot in a decaying universe, cannot enhance the position of society. The limitations of Legrand in this regard are self-evident. ­[page 7:] Certainly, he cannot correct the errors of the past. Because time has long obscured ownership, he cannot restore the jewels, coins, watches, and other valuable items to their original possessors. He certainly cannot give life back to the skeletons of the sailors Captain Kidd deposited in the treasure pit. His personality likewise prevents him from promoting the interests of society in the present. His reclusive tendencies suggest that in the future he will become nothing more than a wealthy hermit.

Legrand and his fictional cousin Dupin thus represent Poe’s assessment of the best sort of life a thinking man living during the 1840’s could expect. This individual believes that the universe is doomed, yet he also accepts the notion that the downward angle to this path of human history is a gentle slope and not a treacherous cliff wall. In essence, Poe saw no impending apocalypse or some secular version of the prophecy in Revelation. Mankind may be close enough to it to perceive the qualities in this end, but the individual, especially the artist, could stave off that final implosion for a brief but exultant moment. Legrand’s poverty positioned him temporarily on a more dangerous and ominous path; his intelligence returned him to a kinder but still ultimately tragic destiny. To accept life on such terms constitutes the attitude fin de millénaire: to accept doom yet fight against it too — for the sake of no one save yourself. The best defense, and perhaps the only one, against such a universe is to seek opportunities of intellectual relief from it . . . to immerse yourself in resolving the puzzles, the cryptograms, the mysteries, the games that are encountered through chance.(7)

Ironically, Poe himself abandoned this perspective after 1845. Setbacks in his professional and personal lives, especially the death of his wife, Virginia, in 1847, probably caused him to question how much even a ratiocinative man could control his environment. During the last four years of his life, he penned few efforts that we can easily classify as pristine ratiocinative tales. If we consider for evidence Eureka (1848), his grand treatise on the universe, Poe instead embraced with glee the end of humanity as a natural and artistic necessity. Nevertheless, his earlier position on a ratiocinative man’s place in the universe has had a pervasive and profound effect upon the portrayals of subsequent fictional detectives during this last century and a half. Legrand’s attitudes can be found in a host of literary heirs: from ­[page 8:] Ezra Jennings’s efforts to discover the fate of a stolen Hindu diamond in Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone (1868), through Mr. Grewgious and Dick Datchery’s desire to recover the missing ring of Rosa Budd’s mother in Charles Dickens’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870), and Sherlock Holmes’s pursuit of missing treasure in both The Sign of Four (1890) and “The Adventure of the Great Carbuncle” (1892), and Peter Wimsey’s discovery of an emerald necklace in Dorothy Sayers’[[s]] The Nine Tailors (1934), and Sam Spade’s encounter with a legendary, supposedly bejeweled statue in Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon (1929), to Philip Marlowe’s quest to secure a pearl necklace in Raymond Chandler’s “Red Wind” (1946).(8) Certainly, I could name more, but I will sample only four of these works here.

In each of these works, the detective figure more or less adopts a fin de millénaire posture. He is a being who copes with the disruption of the universal norm caused by the theft of treasure, the symbolically materialistic scale by which we measure such norms. Through his trained ability to reason, which assumes artistic proportions in it exercise, the detective attempts to restore parity in a decaying world. In each case, the problem-solving process becomes more edifying than the successful recovery of the stolen object. Interestingly, each successive generation of fictional detectives seems to grow relatively more anti-materialistic, eventually questioning more openly the supposes utility in a diamond, a pearl, or other jewel.

In sum, Poe’s Legrand had paved the way for one response to the dilemma of existence in the twentieth century. As we approach the end of the second millennium, which will likely bestir many differing interpretations of its numerical significance, we ought to note the role we have assigned the fictional detective within our modern perspective. He or she is often an alienated being whom society trusts to resolve its mysteries, to explore the underside of human personality and, ultimately, to judge us. In most instances, this judgment manifests itself in the detective’s usual refusal to accept the values of the everyday world. The banality of it reminds him of its inherent boredom. His only haven is to immerse himself in the intellectual puzzle that fate gives him. Despite his empiricism, his endeavors are not truly scientific in that his conclusions will not augment the knowledge of men. His discoveries are the product of his private quests, only a palliative for the ennui of a ratiocinative man. As I suggested before, each ­[page 9:] mystery becomes for the detective his fix to escape the reality of a distant yet inevitable doom in that a successful solution uplifts his illusions of omniscience and, sometimes, omnipotence.

Legrand’s first noteworthy literary heir is Ezra Jennings, the guilt-ridden, terminally ill, drug-addicted doctor in Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone, a work that T. S. Eliot called the first and best detective novel written in English.(9) In truth, several characters in The Moonstone could be considered the detective: the ultimate solution is reached by collaborative efforts that include an energetic but bungling policeman (Sergeant Cuff), a motivated but hapless and wrongly accused suspect (Franklin Blake), and a methodical but uninspired lawyer (Mathew Bruff).

Ezra Jennings, too, has his faults, but more than any other character, he meets Poe’s criteria for the ratiocinative man.(10) In fact, circumstantial evidence suggests that the personality of Collins’s character may have been drawn from Poe’s life itself. Jennings is an alienated man, unfortunate in love, poverty-stricken, forced to eke out his existence on a social station for which he was not bred, intelligent with eclectic interests in abnormal psychology and other grotesque areas of human knowledge. These traits parallel Poe’s life as described by his slanderous biographer Rufus Griswold. Griswold’s chronicle, more than any other source, perpetuated the myth of Poe’s use of narcotics. Collins had no way of ascertaining the truth, but perhaps to imitate his model (Poe-Dupin-Legrand) saddled his most intelligent character in The Moonstone with an opium addiction to alleviate his terminal malady. Certainly, the aurora of impending doom that accompanies Jennings wherever he goes compares well with the popular myths about Poe’s last days. Is it an accident that Collins sets Jennings’s contributions to the resolution of the mystery and his subsequent death in 1849, the year of Poe’s death? In fact, Collins chose to have Jennings die within a month of Poe’s October death.

Furthermore, Jennings is indeed a disciple to the philosophy and methodology of Legrand. To explain the inexplicable fact that the innocent Franklin Blake stole the diamond, Jennings tries to recreate the circumstances of the crime. Interestingly, Jennings’s original premises are based upon deciphering the meanings in the ravings of his gravely ill friend, Thomas Candy, an effort that resembles Legrand’s ­[page 10:] solution to Captain Kidd’s cryptogram. Unbeknown to Blake, Candy, a doctor, on the night of the theft had secretly fed the young man an opium preparation to remedy his insomnia. Preoccupied with his cousin Rachel’s carelessness about safeguarding the Moonstone and unaccustomed to the effects of narcotics, Blake walked in his sleep to his cousin’s room and, in his hypnotic state, took the jewel intending to protect it; but he awakens the next morning without either the jewel or any knowledge of his own nocturnal doings.

From what he pieces together from Candy’s delirious phrases, Jennings arrives at a truth that no one else had the intellectual acumen to fathom. Jennings painstakingly repeats these circumstances exactly one year after the theft, including redrugging Blake, which proves the young man’s physical culpability but moral innocence. In essence, Jennings has an artistic power that he shares with Dupin and Legrand — the ability to amalgamate and organize individual facts and observations into a plausible theory that recreates an almost irretrievable past: in other words, to replace mystery with truth.

That the center of the solution resides with the location of a magnificent gem places Ezra Jennings symbolically and interpretively more in alignment with Legrand than with his fellow ratiocinator, Dupin. The Moonstone’s sordid and romantic past rivals the legends associated with the treasure of Captain Kidd. It is a large diamond, whose flaw refracts a yellowish hue that reminds one of moonlight. Once an essential part of a Hindu icon, the jewel had passed through many bloody and dishonest hands since the eleventh century, continually pursued by a succession of Brahmin gangs of three, who out of religious fanaticism even surrender their privileges of caste to try to recover the Moonstone. Ostensibly, these Hindus function in the manner of furies, assuring that no infidel who possesses the gem enjoys peace. The latest illicit owner of the Moonstone is John Herncastle, a minor British army officer who treacherously seizes the diamond during a battle in 1799. Upon his death, the Moonstone is willed to his niece, Rachel Verinder, supposedly meant as a birthday gift but in fact intended more as a bequeathed curse — in revenge for his family’s ostracism of him, particularly that by his sister, who is Rachel’s mother.

Initially, the Moonstone represents for the coquettish Rachel a wonderfully gaudy gift, an object that easily satiates the young woman’s ­[page 11:] blind thirst to adorn her beauty. Its loss inverts its worth for her, however. She had witnessed Blake’s actions that night but knew nothing of the influences under which he acted; thus she views the diamond as a curse, whose disappearance mandates her silence. Her love for Blake prevents her from confessing what she saw, but her secret also erects a barrier between the two. When its Indian guardians finally retake the Moonstone from the true thief, Godfrey Ablewhite, Rachel finds within herself the capacity to reject all of its metaphysical associations — materialistic and otherwise. In other words, she is glad to be rid of it.

What are Jennings’s rewards in this pursuit? They are not generally material. In the first place, he never had the desire or the opportunity to possess the Moonstone. Despite his poverty, he seeks no monetary compensation for his efforts from the parties involved. Rachel Verinder reminds him of an ill-fated, mystery-shrouded love from his past; therefore, dealing with Rachel’s problems does vicariously help him deal with his own guilt. But his endeavors merely restore what should have occurred initially — the awakening love and subsequent marriage between Franklin Blake and Rachel. His actions do nothing to elevate those events. His discoveries help to facilitate a sequence of actions by others that lead ultimately to the return of the diamond to India, where it belonged all along. Despite his superior abilities, Jennings cannot cure every ill the Moonstone caused while it remained in England. John Herncastle lived a dissolute life, dying friendless because of the Moonstone; his sister dies from a heart attack, likely a result of her anxiety over its theft; Godfrey Ablewhite’s opportune possession of the gem ends in his murder; even the Brahmin guardians had to sacrifice their deepest religious principles to carry out their task.

In the midst of all this suffering, Jennings does gain temporary relief from his own maladies — physical and psychological. His intellectual efforts function almost as placebos for his opium. The problem he resolved so engaged his thoughts that he could be happy for a while — despite the ignominy of his present and the portent of doom in his future. To paraphrase Thomas Hardy, Jennings enjoyed a brief interlude of happiness amid the general drama of pain. Listen to a few sentences from the end of Jennings’s own journal: ­[page 12:]

. . . The house is empty again. They have arranged it among themselves; they have all gone to London by the ten o’clock train. My brief dream of happiness is over. I have awakened again to the realities of my friendless and lonely life. . . .

My poor patients are waiting for me. Back again, this morning, to the old routine! Back again, tonight, to the dreadful alternative between the opium and the pain!

God be praised for his mercy! I have seen a little sunshine — I have had a happy time. (WC 483)

Despite the sympathy he feels for the plight of Franklin Blake, Jennings ultimately valued the intellectual moment more, a moment which only the egocentric ratiocinator can appreciate. It allowed him to escape the decline of his universe even if only for a brief spell — a game that suspended temporarily the rules for normal life — a vestigial chance to seize control of the world around him.

The next work I wish to treat combines significant aspects from both “The Gold-Bug” and The Moonstone. Arthur Conan Doyle’s second novelette with Sherlock Holmes as its helm, The Sign of the Four, like many of Doyle’s other early stories, borrows extensive elements of its plot. The great Agra Treasure, which Holmes and his biographer, Dr. John Watson, pursue, has events associated with it that remind us of the legend accompanying the Moonstone. As in the Collins novel, English soldiers procure the Indian treasure through treachery. Again, possession of it destroyed the quality of their lives and threatens those of their heirs. Curiously, Doyle names one of his characters Able White, obviously taken from Godfrey’s surname in The Moonstone. The physical description of the incredible wealth contained in the treasure resembles quite remarkably that given by the narrator of “The Gold-Bug” in inventorying the contents of Captain Kidd’s chest. And, of course, we again have a reclusive ratiocinator, Sherlock Holmes, whose intravenous cocaine addiction frames the novella and recalls Ezra Jennings’s problems with laudanum.

Most certainly, Holmes’s personality meets well the criteria for fin de millénaire. Doyle himself acknowledged his debt to Poe. Participating in a celebration to commemorate the centenary of Poe’s birth in 1909, Doyle testified: “his tales were one of the great landmarks and starting points in the literature of the last century. . . . For ­[page 13:] those tales have been so pregnant with suggestion, so stimulating to the mind of others, that it may be said of many of them that each is the root from which a whole literature has developed. . . . Where was the detective story until Poe breathed life into it?”(11) Doyle’s creation Holmes was not so generous in his first appearance in A Study in Scarlet, calling Dupin “a very inferior fellow . . . with some analytical skill” (ACD 1: 162). Nonetheless, Holmes was not above imitating Dupin’s methodology as well as his life style.

Although they are never mentioned by name in The Sign of the Four, the examples of Ezra Jennings and William Legrand exert a profound influence upon the demeanor of Doyle’s hero. Holmes himself attests the escapes which each of his cases allows him, so much so that each such exercise became a substitute for his tri-daily dose of cocaine:

My mind . . . rebels at stagnation. Give me a problem, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram [note this reference to one of Poe’s interests], or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. (ACD 1: 611)

The sordidness in the world still exists, but the mystery again provides an intellectual respite from it. Note Holmes’s behavior at the end of this pessimistic description by Dr. Watson of a London scene:

It was a September evening . . . the day had been a dreary one, and a dense drizzly fog lay low upon the great city. Mud-coloured clouds drooped sadly over the muddy streets. . . . There was, to my mind, something eerie and ghost-like in the endless procession of . . . sad faces and glad, haggard and merry. Like all human kind, they flitted from the gloom into the light, and so back into the gloom once more. . . . The dull, heavy evening, with the strange business upon which we were engaged, combined to make me nervous and depressed. Holmes alone could rise superior to such petty influences. He held his open note-book upon his knee, and from time to time he jotted down figures and memoranda in the light of his pocket-lantern. (ACD 1: 622)

That is, when in pursuit of truth, Holmes does not yield his attention to the decline of the outside universe: in his own words, “I have a curious constitution. I never remember feeling tired by work, though idleness exhausts me completely” (ACD 1: 654). ­[page 14:]

His energy, his superior intellect, permit him to envision truth more clearly and completely than Althelney Jones, the policemen assigned to the case; Mary Morstan, his client; or Watson, his confidant. Borrowed from Dupin’s solution of the murders in the Rue Morgue, Holmes recognizes through his trained senses and his acute reasoning powers that the “locked room” in which Bartholomew Sholto was murdered and from which the treasure stolen could have been, in fact, penetrated under unusual circumstances, involving a child-sized, savage man from a primitive island. Later, when the efforts of all others, including the gang of Baker Street Irregulars, fail to locate a boat hired by Jonathan Small, the chief culprit, which he used for escape, Holmes deduces its location because of that collective failure, dons a disguise, and searches along the Thames himself to find the hideout.

As Ezra Jennings did for Franklin Blake, Holmes acts almost like a deus ex machina for Mary Morstan, the innocent victim of the skull-duggery and greed of a dozen other people. With one exception, the incident does not substantially benefit Morstan materially, for during the climactic chase on the river, Jonathan Small realizes that he cannot keep the Agra treasure, resolves that no one else should have it, and then jettisons it precious stone by precious stone into the Thames, irretrievably lost in the muck of the river bed. Like Rachel Verinder, Morstan comes to believe that her life is better off without such tainted wealth. The one improvement in her life is that Dr. Watson proposes, and she accepts, a permutation that Holmes had nothing to do with. In fact, he reacts with disdain to Watson’s upcoming marriage.

What does Holmes himself receive from the mystery in The Sign of the Four? — materially, very little. Certainly he never entertained the illusion that he could cut himself in for a share of the Agra treasure. Like William Legrand, Holmes seems to pursue jewels not so much to procure them, but to ascertain whether or not they are where they are supposed to be — as if discovery becomes the last element of his logical syllogism, confirming that he indeed had re-envisioned the past completely and correctly, that he had fathomed a complex and elusive truth. Interestingly, the only privilege that Holmes requests from the police is that he be granted an interview with the captured Jonathan Small, who alone possesses all knowledge about the ill-fated history of the treasure. Holmes needs this information to comprehend the entire event. The confession satisfies his curiosity for the moment, ­[page 15:] but it cannot sustain him — it cannot elevate his spirit permanently. Watson concludes his narrative with this assessment of reward:

“The division seems rather unfair,” I remarked. “You have done all the work in this business. I get a wife out of it, Jones [the policeman] gets the credit; pray what remains for you?”

“For me,” said Sherlock Holmes, “there still remains the cocaine bottle.” And he stretched his long, white hand up for it. (ACD 1: 688)

The mystery solved, Holmes must again suffer the degradation of diurnal life within the confines of decaying human destiny — until the next case comes his way.

Because of his ostensible commitment to literary realism, Dashiell Hammett shunned the “erudite solver of riddles in the Sherlock Holmes manner.” He preferred to synthesize the personalities and methodology of all the Pinkertons and other private operatives he had personally known. Nevertheless, as Doyle had done before him, the innovator of the hard-boiled school of fictional detectives honored the accomplishments of the father of the modern detective story. In his praise for a contemporary mystery writer, Hammett made a comparison that reveals one of his aesthetic models: “[Georges Simenon] is more intelligent. There is something of the Edgar Allan Poe about him.”(12)

Hammett shrewdly invested the assets from Poe’s legacy. In The Maltese Falcon, a treasure hunt rescues Sam Spade from the insipid doldrums of existence in a way similar to the experiences of Legrand and, yes, despite Hammett’s protests, even Sherlock Holmes. Hammett introduces his detective as a crusted cynic who has contempt for his partner, Miles Archer; who pursues an affair with Archer’s wife, a jealous, petty woman he could never love; and who has ethics that could be suspended by a client’s retainer. In reading the novel, we eventually piece together a complex psychological portrait of this man. An angry and violent and self-indulgent world has succeeded in corrupting Spade — but only at the superficial level. We often see the mask he dons to deal with this world; seldom do we witness the alienated and self-righteous essence of the inner man.

Indeed, Spade does conduct a schizoid life. His outward persona elicits reactions in others that, when considered together, detail a ­[page 16:] society where mistrust, greed, and treachery thrive. Brigid O’Shaughnessy tries to buy Spade’s loyalty first with money, then with sex, and finally with love. Casper Gutman offers several bribes, reaching at one point during the negotiation a half-million dollars. They both misread Spade’s poker face and assume that his familiarity with immorality proves his own corruptibility.

Since Hammett eschewed first-person narration in The Maltese Falcon, we cannot readily discern Spade’s thoughts.(13) Thus, we lapse into a reductive fallacy: a cynical man in a morally decadent world must be himself corrupt. What else save a questionable motive must lie in his pursuit of a mythical, bejeweled statuette? Is it his infatuation with O’Shaughnessy? Is it only to avoid a murder charge? Could it be for his own personal gain? Concepts such as honor and justice do not become salient until the climax of the text.

Those values, the ethical core in Spade, only reveal themselves once — in his marvelous confrontation of O’Shaughnessy with her own culpability in Archer’s murder. Only then can we decipher the intransigent moral code that motivated the detective’s behavior heretofore. Dedicated to loyalty (even to a dead, third-rate partner), to truth (even at the cost of passion), and to order (even with the knowledge his victory over chaos is fleeting and insubstantial), Spade must follow, albeit with reluctance, the solitary path toward personal meaning. He must forsake the deceptive symbols of inevitable social damnation: the Maltese Falcon and, in his perspective, the more enticing treasure, Brigid O’Shaughnessy. The only reward left for him is the intellectual intrigue offered by this chance encounter with a myth and its victims. He cannot extend this reward to benefit society.

The more tangible object of desire, the falcon (which Spade prefers to call the “dingus”), has romantic trappings similar to those we have already associated with the symbols of treasure used by Poe, Collins, and Doyle. Excepting the title, Hammett first alludes to the falcon’s existence through one of O’Shaughnessy’s repeated attempts both to inform and to confuse the detective. Surrounded by half-truths, withheld information, and more obvious lies, her account of the statuette strikes a discordant note in Spade and in us. Nevertheless, incomplete as his knowledge is, Spade by his ratiocinative nature must consider the possibility of its existence. His world has been disrupted by two bizarre murders, and more loom in the near future. The falcon ­[page 17:] thus represents the equally bizarre catalyst that has accelerated entropy in this world. Casper Gutman, a corpulent manipulator who serves as a gregarious foil to the snide detective, relates the fantastic history of the statuette midway in the text, neatly bisecting the novel between darkening mystery and gradual enlightenment.

This legend interjects the most incredulous of reasons to explain the disruption of the everyday world. In appreciation for a grant of three territories, including Malta, a sixteenth-century order of crusading knights offered to Charles V of Spain “a glorious golden falcon, encrusted from head to foot with their [[the]] finest jewels in their coffers” in lieu of the monarch’s token demand for a live bird as tribute (DH 128). Never reaching its destination, the precious artifact passed from one notorious owner to another through the centuries, gaining several enamel coats in the process to disguise its true worth. Gutman himself had already chased after the falcon and rumors of it for seventeen years, suggesting that even for him the quest meant more than possession.

When Captain Jacobi, O’Shaughnessy’s dying confederate, delivers the falcon to Spade’s office, the detective reacts oddly. His excitement has brutal and self-hypnotic qualities. Hammett does not provide us with a direct peek into his hero’s thoughts, but in his fixation Spade does squeeze his secretary’s arm until she yelps. He then steps on the dead man’s hand, a grisly reminder of the source of his new fortune. One could argue that his behavior indicates greed, but I suggest that his white-faced excitement has an intellectual basis; he has just acquired the power necessary to resolve the mystery.

Prior to possessing the falcon, Spade followed a haphazard trail to ferret out clues: chance encounters, hunches, interview gambits — all tactics designed to glimpse at truth, as he admits to O’Shaughnessy, only “bit by bit.” At times, his search procedures have all the uninspired acumen of Poe’s Prefect G——, as when he methodic, searches his client’s hotel room.

Having the falcon allows Spade to take more control of events. Rather than chasing after the other participants — O’Shaughnessy, Gutman, Wilmer (Gutman’s lieutenant), Joel Cairo, and the police (who also radiate criminality in the novel) — they must come to him. And ­[page 18:] Spade uses the dingus to play the villains against each other. Each of their treacherous ploys sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally, reveals a new aspect to the case and thus replaces a piece in the jigsaw, eventually allowing the detective to picture the entirety of events, especially to discover who murdered whom and for what reason. Consquently, I see Spade’s intensity after getting the falcon as a sign that he finally has the means to re-master his environment.

The rewards for his effort were certainly not material. Ironically, the statuette proves to be a lead counterfeit, presumedly substituted by a former owner. (As John Huston’s script commented in the famous 1941 film version, “it’s the stuff that dreams are made of.”) The discovery of the artifact’s real worth sticks a cynical pin into the pretentious balloon of collective greed. The chase for the Maltese Falcon had tallied three more victims, and soon adds a fourth when Wilmer murders Gutman.

Spade battles savagely against the progressive degeneration of human values that the falcon represents. Protecting himself from such forces can be his only realistic goal. Knowing the complete truth is the only means to attain it. Thus, the monetary worth of the dingus becomes irrelevant for him. He even surrenders to the police the thousand dollars Gutman left to bribe him. More painfully, he also delivers O’Shaughnessy, the murderer of his partner, to the law because he refused “to play the sap” for her as she expected all of her men to do.

He returns to the shabby existence of a seedy detective. Hammett suggests that Spade may even resume his empty affair with Archer’s wife, who now seems a poor substitute for the “wild and unpredictable” O’Shaughnessy. And the thrill of the chase with its desperate chances, with its intellectual stimulation, with its Romantic escape from consuming monotony — is over.

The final work I will discuss, Raymond Chandler’s short story “Red Wind,” is, in my judgment, the stylistic apotheosis of not only the author’s canon, but of the entire hard-boiled school of detective fiction. Chandler himself denied that nineteenth-century mystery writers had a sizable impact upon either himself or his colleagues who published in pulp magazines like Black Mask during the 1930’s. Nevertheless, in his essay “The Simple Art of Murder” he begrudgingly ­[page 19:] called Arthur Conan Doyle a “pioneer,” noting that Sherlock Holmes “is mostly an attitude” (RC1 5). This attitude, which I call fin de millénaire, developed through a succession of nineteenth-century detectives from Dupin and Legrand to Holmes, and contributed greatly to Dashiell Hammett’s conception of a detective’s personality in both his Continental Op and Sam Spade. And since Hammett drew the original blueprint for the hard-boiled school — an achievement that Chandler recognized, advertised, and paid homage to — Chandler’s detective, Philip Marlowe, would find more parallels than he would care to admit between his life and those of Legrand, Dupin, Jennings, and Holmes.

Significantly, in yet another 1950 essay Chandler proclaims that in a “Black Mask type of story . . . scene outranked the plot. [In fact t]he ideal mystery was one you would read if the ending were missing” (RC2 viii). In the pursuit of creating such memorable literary atmospheres, Chandler constructed a fictive universe that corresponds remarkably with Poe’s collapsing one.

Possibly it was the smell of fear which these stories managed to generate. Their characters lived in a world gone wrong, a world in which, long before the atom bomb, civilization had created the machinery for its own destruction, and was learning to use it with all the moronic delight of a gangster trying out his first machine gun. The law was something to be manipulated for profit and power. The streets were dark with something more than night. (RC2 viii)

Amid such desperate circumstances Marlowe must survive and find his own solace. Returning to “The Simple Art of Murder” I quote:

. . . down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished or afraid. . . . He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world. . . . He is a relatively poor man, or he would not be a detective at all. . . . He is a lonely man[, yet he] has a range of awareness that would startle you. (RC1 20-21)

In drawing a hero that reminds us of Galahad and his search for the Holy Grail, Chandler returns to the behavior pattern conceived by Poe for the superior man, a being who takes advantage of the intellectual challenges that cross his life: in Chandler’s words, “[t]he story is this man’s adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure” (RC1 21). ­[page 20:]

Like his unacknowledged mentors before him, Marlowe in “Red Wind” had the power to recognize the latent intrigue in coincidence. From his idle observations in the first paragraph of the story, the detective knows that something is amiss in his world, something so wrong that the universe seemed as if it were collapsing faster than fate planned.

There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge. (RC2 187)

The Santa Anas do have a bizarre effect upon this fictive world. In his adventure to know a complete truth, Marlowe must sort out an array of fantastic coincidences. In the cocktail bar, where he nursed his full-glass of beer, he witnesses a cold-blooded murder in which the shooter and victim meet by accident. The victim had entered the bar looking for a woman he intended to blackmail and instead encounters a fellow con man he had cheated years before. By chance, Marlowe sees the blackmail victim, Lola Barsaly, as he returns to his apartment, recognizing her by the murder victim’s earlier description of her clothes. The plot continues with an incredible succession of such coincidences, after which Marlowe must follow, as if he were in a moment-by-moment struggle to impede an apocalyptic implosion. Like his literary predecessors, Marlowe’s quest begins with a question:

I sat at the edge of one of the half-booths and smoked cigarettes and watched Waldo’s face get deader and deader. I wondered who the girl in the print coat was, why Waldo had left the engine of his car running outside, why he was in a hurry, whether the drunk had been waiting for him or just happened to be there. (RC2 191)

Again, at the heart of this mystery lies jewelry, this time a string of pearls that Lola Barsaly values in remembrance of a dead airplane pilot, Stan Phillips, whom she loves more than her living husband. Because Lola saves the detective’s life by distracting Waldo’s murderer when he tries to eliminate the witness to his crime, because Marlowe finds intoxicating the fragrance of her sandalwood-based perfume (which “would make a deacon nuts”), because he feels pity for her plight, because his infatuation evolves into a secret and earnest love ­[page 21:] for her, despite her calling him a “nasty little string of nothing” early in their relationship, Marlowe becomes her champion, resolved to recover her lost necklace and to protect her reputation. In essence, he knows he cannot improve her life — all he can do is to restore as much as he can of what has been stolen from her.

The solution to the “Red Wind” mystery does not involve complicated deductions as in the experiences of Legrand and Holmes. Instead, from the data at hand Marlowe draws obvious conclusions, which lead him to the next source of information. Overall, we as readers follow the detective as he traces a simple causal chain that ironically permits him to reconstruct a complex past in which the interests of a dozen people, with diverse goals and motivations, converge upon that one hot night.

But Marlowe is enough of a ratiocinative man to manipulate his world in order to save what he can — given the circumstance. He tricks the sadistic Copernik into making a false report, which he later uses to wring the recovered necklace from the policeman, keeping the Barsalys’ name out of the papers in the bargain.

More important, Marlowe is intelligent enough to surmise that the pearls in Stan Phillips’s gift to Lola were false, imitations of such quality that only a jeweler could know — but nonetheless as fake as the Maltese Falcon. The detective has a dilemma. He could tell Lola the truth, which would destroy the solace she finds in her memory — not because she prized the mercenary value of the necklace above all else, but because she would learn that the only man she had ever loved had lied to her. As a modern knight-errant, Marlowe and his sense of honor prevent him from speeding up the collapsing world around Lola, even if it could improve his position to offer his own love. Consequently, he commissions a disreputable jeweler to produce another phony string of pearls, this time fakes so obvious that even a layman could tell. He gives this second necklace to Lola, concocting a story that the dead blackmailer had made the switch, thus insuring that she would never discover by accident sometime in the future the insubstantial true value of Stan Phillips’s gift. His client decides to keep only the gold clasp, the only precious part of the original necklace, and walks away with her memory intact but also with a resolve to renew her life. ­[page 22:]

Marlowe’s ethics compel him to let her go unmolested. All he has left is the memory of the adventure, which supplies him with a complete truth that no one else had the capacity to know — not Lola Barsaly or the husband she decides to divorce, not the brutish Copernik or even his astute partner, Ybarra. Marlowe cannot even keep the $500 he received from Frank Barsaly: he uses it to bribe Copernik and Ybarra for their silence. Only the detective — alienated by his superior insight, reconciled to muddle through a decaying environment symbolized by the dirty, paralyzing streets in and around Los Angeles, (which curiously remind us of certain sections of Holmes’s London) — only Marlowe has the attitudes — cynical, satirical, and pessimistic — to cope with such adversity.

In the last scene of “Red Wind,” he travels alone to an isolated beach along the Pacific. Cutting the string of pearls, he thumbs them one by one into the sea, in mocking tribute to the unworthy dead lover, who in Marlowe’s terms is “just another four-flusher.” Had the pearls been real, their return to the ocean would be a natural, albeit hackneyed, symbolic conclusion for the text. Their inherent falsity, however, interjects a complex set of interpretive possibilities. In effect, Marlowe tries to superimpose a value beyond the intrinsic worth of the stones by treating them as real treasures of the sea, an act that parallels how he sustained Lola’s illusion by contriving its plausibility. Of course, Marlowe, like his predecessors, can assess the irony in his experience, which in this case elicits a humorous yet despondent tribute to the grand joke played on man by the universe.

All of the recluses I have discussed here, from Legrand to Marlowe, have entertained the inevitability of the apocalypse, but they have also sought ways to salvage for themselves whatever amusement they can find — to put off a pessimistic destiny (even if only for an instant) through isolated efforts of intellect. In treasuring the ratiocinative pursuits of the moment, they could seemingly suspend time itself by temporarily ignoring the mean qualities of existence. Poe, their metaphysical mentor, tried to map out in the 1840’s a strategy available to any individual who had enough intellectual superiority to cope with the general decline in the grand course of human endeavor — and generation upon generation of fictional detectives have followed suit. Poe may have indeed succeeded in defining one candidate for the quintessential twentieth-century man — perhaps the only such man ­[page 23:] capable enough to comprehend and deal with the end of the millennium.

Before I leave you, I would like to resolve a mystery that I hoped has piqued curiosity in more than one of you: what is in the treasure box on the table? It contains something that Legrand and all his psychological heirs valued more than any other possession. From the tenure of my talk, the ratiocinative among you should have already guessed its contents — nothing, that is, no material object. But the knowledge that it has nothing inside and the mental process that yields this logical conclusion are their own proper reward — an intellectual pearl of great price. Seeking truth more than wealth, the detectives in the audience have quested during this past hour for the solution to the syllogism. Those who deduced the truth and feel satisfied in the pursuit have experienced fin de millénaire à la Poe. However, I don’t know whether to congratulate or pity you.

I think the best way to end a talk about mystery is to quote Gabriel Betteredge, the steward who narrates part of The Moonstone: “In the dark, I have brought you thus far. In the dark, I am compelled to leave you, with my best respects” (WC 233).

­[page 24:]


1.  For example, in eight pages of discussion of Poe’s place in the history of the detective story, Julian Symons devotes four sentences to “The Gold-Bug”; see Mortal Consequences: A History — From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), pp. 27-35.

2.  In a 9 August, 1846, letter to Philip P. Cooke, Poe invoked the word supposititious in describing Dupin, indicating the creator’s weariness of his creation; see The Letters of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. John Ward Ostrom (Cambridge: Harvard, 1948), 2: 328.

3.  See “Edgar Allan Poe,” Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 3: Antebellum Writers in New York and the South, ed. Joel Myerson (Detroit: Gale Research, 1979), p. 227.

4.  See “Poe and the Perfectibility of Man,” Poe Studies 19 (1986): 1-6. I give a fuller presentation, including a discussion of the effect Poe’s stance had upon his fiction, in “Poe and the Perfectibility of Man” (M.A. Thesis, University of Mississippi, 1982).

5.  “Poe’s Detective God,” Furioso 6 (Summer, 1951): 45-54.

6.  In “Blackwood Articles à la Poe: How to Make a False Start Pay,” Revue des Langues Vivantes 39 (1973): 419, 428-31, Benjamin Franklin Fisher IV sees this same phenomenon as evidence of Poe’s careful modifications of the Gothic tradition in the ratiocinative tales.

7.  Pioneering the study of how advancements in physics and cosmology have influenced literature, Martha Turner has explored how the concept entropy has affected fictive worlds. Her insights have helped to shape my approach here. In response to my essay, she offers: “If the direction of the universe is from organization to disorganization, this word [entropy] explains in more depth why Legrand enjoys the hunt as a experience more highly structured, complex and interesting than everyday life. Counter-entropic processes can exist on local but not systematic scales, which would account for why it is no good trying to convert personal epiphanies into societal benefits.”

8.  The dates for the short stories reflect their first important appearance in book-length collections.

9.  Eliot’s 1927 essay “Wilkie Collins and Dickens” has been republished in Selected Essays, New Edition (New York: Harcourt, Brace, & World, 1960) see p. 413.

10.  By noting the plot parallels between “The Purloined Letter” and Collins’s subsequently published “A Stolen Letter,” Symons strongly suggests the Victorian author’s familiarity with Poe’s detective tales; see p. 44.

11.  Quoted in ACD 1: 162-63.

12.  Hammett’s attack upon the Holmesian style of detective fiction came from his 1934 introduction to the Modern Library edition of The Maltese Falcon; excerpted in Richard Layman, Shadow Man: The Life of Dashiell Hammett (New York: Harcourt Brace Jonanovich, 1981), p. 106. The Simenon/Poe quotation is from a 7 June, 1950, interview for the Los Angeles Times; excerpted in Layman, p. 217.

13.  Hammett employed first-person narration in his stories featuring the Continental Op, as his disciple, Raymond Chandler, later did with the Philip Marlowe series.



This lecture was delivered at the Sixty-eighth Annual Commemoration Program of the Poe Society, October 7, 1990. The lecture was presented in the Wheeler Auditorium of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

© 1993 and 2010, by The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, Inc.


[S:1 - FDMPLDS, 1993] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Lectures - Fin de Millenaire (R. Fusco, 1993)