The Purloined Letter Podcast
Welcome to The Purloined Letter podcast episode!
Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Purloined Letter” is one of the first detective stories. Set in Paris, the story features amateur detective C. Auguste Dupin and his unnamed sidekick, who narrates how Dupin solves what Poe called “perhaps the best of my tales of ratiocination.” The story, published in 1844, is an excellent mystery, minus the Gothic horror of “Rue Morgue.” Together, Poe’s stories form the foundation of the mystery story as we know it.
The story opens like this: “At Paris, just after dark one gusty evening in the autumn of 18—, I was enjoying the twofold luxury of meditation and a meerschaum, in company with my friend C. Auguste Dupin, in his little back library, or book-closet, au troisieme, No. 33, Rue Dunot, Faubourg St. Germain. … We gave [G–] a hearty welcome; for there was nearly half as much of the entertaining as of the contemptible about the man, and we had not seen him for several years … [he called] every thing ‘odd’ that was beyond his comprehension, and thus lived amid an absolute legion of “‘oddities.’”
In the story, Dupin mentions a game of puzzles played on a map. One player picks a city or river from the map. Dupin says unskilled players choose names shown on the map in small print. More experienced players choose large-print names because people are more likely to miss things that are “excessively obvious.” In other words, the truth is hiding in plain sight. For example, the letter is right in front of the royal spouse, but he can’t see it. Later, it’s in front of G–, who can’t see it. D– also doesn’t recognize that Dupin swapped letters (pulling D’s own trick). Much has to do with individual ability to truly see.
Estimated reading time: 1 hour
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