Appraisal of “The Purloined Letter”

Was Edgar Allan Poe really one man? Or, were a series of authors writing on his behalf? These are the questions I am left asking after reading, “The Purloined Letter.”

As many of my faithful readers (and fans) can attest, I have written many appraisals regarding Poe’s works. At first, they were the writings of a lovelorn, woe-be-gone maudlin, crying out against the torments of lost love.

Then, I went on to review a series of macabre tales, so horrific that the delicate nature of my stomach was most certainly put to the test!
Now, I am to review “The Purloined Letter,” a tale of crime, intrigue and deductive reasoning. In it, another unnamed character (the only common thread, it seems, among Poe’s work) narrates the story by which our hero (amateur detective Auguste Dupin) is approached by the Prefect of Police, known only as “G” regarding the case of a stolen letter.

The letter was taken by the unscrupulous Minister “D” from the boudoir of an unnamed female for the purpose of blackmail. It is said to contain material of a most compromising and unseemly nature. (Take heart, Ladies! Your virtue is safe, as Poe never fully divulges the contents of the letter.) While the Police are at a loss, Dupin asks the Prefect to describe the letter and any contents which might identify it.

A few weeks pass and the police have still not unearthed the letter. When Dupin is told that a fortune of 50,000 francs has been offered for its return, he produces the letter and takes the reward.

It seems that Dupin visited Minister “D” and was able to deduce that the letter was in plain sight although disguised and mixed amongst his other papers. After feigning a reason for a second visit, Dupin was able to switch the letter for a counterfeit of his own making.

Master Poe has my mind is spinning… How can one man write so deeply about lost love, move on to write about such evil subjects as murder and then pen such a thrilling and enjoyable tale about logical deduction? As if this would not breed confusion enough, what am I left to think of his decline into insobriety (clearly to me, resulting in his death) only to find he is quite possibly not exactly dead? And what to make of the bizarre cryptographic messages that have been discovered all over our city?

Readers, in this life, I have always considered Master Poe amongst my dearest of friends. However, now that Poe is perhaps not of this world, I find myself asking the Lord Almighty if I ever really knew the man at all.
I have come to a conclusion—One that is quite hard, for me, to admit… I need help to figure out this mystery, or I too may indeed go mad, myself…

Leave a Reply