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is something special about the detective story. I think it is perhaps that
extra bit of thinking, that extra involvement with the audience. The audience
is not simply a bystander, but actually in the story, thinking alongside
the detectives. It engulfs the audience in a new world, and shows the real
horrors of the world, and the heroes who bring the criminals to justice.
It shows us people with seemingly super-human skills, but we then realize
that all those skills lie deep in ourselves. And there is one thing that
the detective story has that most other types of stories don't have: a great
From Poe to Aoyama: The Legacy of the Detective
Story By BearFrog
Back in 1841, Edgar Allan Poe wrote a story that would begin an entire genre
of stories and entertainment. Poe, who has already done so much innovation
in the fields of horror and fantasy, was the creator of the modern day detective
story. He came up with the concept of the eccentric detective, the sidekick
narrator, the locked room scenario, the incompetent police, and the twist
finale. While there were a few stories about detectives before Poe's, Poe
was the one who created the formula and elements we see in many of today's
Poe was a man obsessed with the afterlife, obsessed with darkness and the
unknown. He was a drunk and possible drug abuser, and yet his true genius
was noticed by few before his death. Poe, who had suffered so much death
and chaos and his lifetime, needed some form of logic. Many suspect that
Poe created the detective story to prevent him from going mad. But what
is interesting is that the ending in "Murders in the Rue Morgue" defies
all logic, or at least conventional logic.
Poe created the brilliant French detective Auguste Dupin, based upon a French
detective he had met with amazing skills of deduction. Poe, it seems, is
in the same situation of the narrator, as he admires the great skills of
this man. Whenever reading on of the three Dupin stories, I always imagine
Poe as the sidekick, who is no longer worried with his normal fears (like
the afterlife) and gets caught up in the mystery of the case and the admiration
of his comrade.
Anyone reading Poe's three Dupin mysteries will notice a significant difference
from the rest of his writing. It is almost as if an entirely different author
wrote them. It is so similar to Sherlock Holmes, that if only the names
were changed you might not be able to tell if Conan Doyle wrote it (except
the possible exception due to the more complex language). Dupin and the
sidekick are like mirror images of Holmes and Watson.
Dupin appears in 3 Poe mysteries, 2 murders and 1 stolen item case. The
stolen item case involves no death whatsoever, a strange occurrence in Poe's
writing. This alone showed a bit of gap between that and the rest of Poe's
writing, especially since the case was about a stolen letter. I am both
happy for the gap and partly resent it. On one hand, Poe managed to create
a most amazing genre, and on the other, it would be nice to see some insanity
in one of the perpetrators in his stories, as that would be a nice combination
in a detective story.
Nonetheless, Poe published three of the greatest detective stories of all
time. His influence is seen clearly, as a British author named Arthur Conan
Doyle (often called Conan Doyle), who took that formula that Poe developed
and perfected it. Doing so, he created the greatest detective of all time,
the amazing Sherlock Holmes. Doyle always considered his medical school
teacher and forensic detective Joseph Bell, the man who inspired him to
write Holmes, as being a real life super detective. Combining Joseph Bell
with Dupin, Sherlock Holmes was created. In fact, in one Holmes story, Watson
and Holmes discuss the comparison. Of course, Holmes doesn't exactly like
the comparison (^^):
"You remind me of Edgar Allan Poe's Dupin. I had no
idea that such individuals did exist outside of stories."
Sherlock Holmes rose and lit his pipe. "No doubt you think that you are
complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin," he observed. "Now, in my opinion,
Dupin was a very inferior fellow. That trick of his of breaking in on
his friends' thoughts with an apropos remark after a quarter of an hour's
silence is really very showy and superficial. He had some analytical genius,
no doubt; but he was by no means such a phenomenon as Poe appeared to
"Have you read Gaboriau's (another previous detective author) works?"
I asked. "Does Lecoq come up to your idea of a detective?"
Sherlock Holmes sniffed sardonically. "Lecoq was a miserable bungler,"
he said, in an angry voice; "he had only one thing to recommend him, and
that was his energy. That book made me positively ill. The question was
how to identify an unknown prisoner. I could have done it in twenty-four
hours. Lecoq took six months or so. It might be made a textbook for detectives
to teach them what to avoid."
Don't you just love Holmes?
Sherlock Holmes, a fencer, a violinist, a boxer, a cocaine abuser, a man
with excellent baritsu skills, a master of disguise, and the world's greatest
detective. Teamed up with a former military doctor, Watson, the two work
together in solving seemingly impossible crimes. Appearing in 60 stories
(novels and short stories) and many by other authors, including Conan's
son, Sherlock Holmes became an international icon. He became so real and
lifelike to the public, that when Doyle killed off Holmes in "The Final
Problem", fans wrote letters trying to comfort Watson.