Surveying the Psychological Evolution of the Detective in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, “The Purloined Letter”, “La muerte y la brújula”, and City of Glass by way of Soshana Felman’s “The Case of Poe: Applications/Implications of Psychoanalysis"
Bi-College (Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges). Comparative Literature Program
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In The Mystery to a Solution, John Irwin writes about Edgar Allan Poe’s “sense of his detective Dupin as a kind of Platonic embodiment, a sedentary mastermind whose very lack of physical exertion emphasizes the mastery of mind over the material world” (Irwin xvi). In a book wholly devoted to the genre of detective fiction, Irwin goes on to draw connections between Poe and other writers who also created mysteries. My thesis explores the evolution of the character of the detective across three works, Poe’s “The Purloined Letter”, Jorge Luis Borges’s “La muerte y la brújula”, and Paul Auster’s City of Glass. I begin with one of Poe’s three short stories featuring the detective C. Auguste Dupin in order to introduce the author’s initial vision for the figure, specifically a man whose intellect is the best tool within the context of a criminal investigation. I go on to show how the remaining two works both depart from Poe’s characterization of Dupin and are enabled by his foundation for the genre.