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Bonaparte, M. (1935). The Murders in the Rue Morgue. Psychoanal Q., 4:259-293.

(1935). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 4:259-293

The Murders in the Rue Morgue

Marie Bonaparte

In The Murders in the Rue Morgue, the situation which confronted us in The Man of the Crowd is reversed. There we were introduced to the criminal but left in ignorance of the nature of his crime. Here the crime is known but not the criminal. The discovery of his identity, in fact, constitutes the theme of the tale, which is the forerunner of all modern detective fiction.

The Murders in the Rue Morgue was first published in April, 1841, in Graham's Magazine, the important new review which Graham had founded by amalgamating Atkinson's Casket with Burton's Gentleman's Magazine. The Man of the Crowd had appeared in the last named periodical three months before. A period of profound depression, following upon his rupture with Burton, had prevented Poe from assuming his duties as editor of Graham's at once, and during this interval no new tale had appeared from his pen.

We may ask ourselves with reason whether Poe's violent conflict with Burton—his outburst of savage hatred against this quondam employer, half man of affairs and half mountebank, who had sold his magazine to buy a circus—may not have determined the reactivation of the theme of the father's guilt observable in Poe's work at this time. There is reason to think, moreover, that Poe had begun to drink again, as Burton accused him of doing. In any case, it is certain that, beginning with The Man of the Crowd, and thus antedating Virginia's first attack of hæmoptysis in January, 1842, a new undercurrent of savagery, more sanguinary than anything that had gone before, made its appearance in Poe's work.


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