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Showing posts from February, 2015

8 ♠ The Murders in the Rue Morgue

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Another re-read and another Dupin - hurrah!

One of the many wonderful things about this Poe story is the beginning.  The narrator basically starts with a spiel on how checkers players have to be more analytical than chess players, since "the higher powers of the reflective intellect are more decidedly and more usefully tasked by the unostentatious game of draughts [checkers] than by the elaborate frivolity of chess."  His words, not mine.  He argues that chess requires concentration, but checkers requires cleverness, as when, for example, a game of checkers results in four kings and one player wins.  I like this bit very much, since I'm good at checkers and absolutely dismal at chess.

The real story, of course, centers upon the meeting of C. Auguste Dupin and the narrator, as well as a gory murder case which occurs soon after.  It's hard to believe I had forgotten the solution to the mystery; now it seems very memorable and one I'm not likely to forget again.  The …

10 ♦ Beauty and the Beast

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Once again - I assure you I shuffled this deck very well!  But I can't really complain to get another fairytale, and what could be more appropriate for Valentine's weekend than this story?

The original "Beauty and the Beast" was written in the 18th century by Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont.  According to the endnotes of the online version I read, Beaumont in turn based her story on a folktale retelling by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve.

It's interesting that in both cases the author was female, because I've always felt that Belle (to use her Disney name!) was one of the best fairytale heroines.  In this story, she is completely unselfish and quite honest in her feelings for the Beast, which are initially just those of friendship.  The Beast himself is more melancholy than sinister, and even for a short story the romance is developed enough to make sense and bring closure at the end.

I would say one thing Disney did right was to make the antagonist Gas…

4 ♠ The Mystery of Marie Rogêt ... A ♥ The Old Manse

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The Mystery of Marie Rogêt is from the trio of C. Augustus Dupin mysteries by Edgar Allan Poe.  It is closely based on the real-life murder of Mary Cecilia Rogers, except the setting is Paris instead of New York City.  Marie Rogêt leaves her home one Sunday evening, purportedly to visit a relative, and she is not seen again until her body is found floating in the Seine.  The newspapers are full of speculation regarding the mystery, but Dupin's only concern is to reconcile the known facts with each other and, slightly different than his British counterpart, to eliminate the unlikely.

I remember when I first read this story, years ago, and found it to be pretty bland.  It is more of a commentary than a story.  The one thing that stood out to me this time was the brutality of the crime, much worse than the average Holmes story, but more true to life in that it was based on real life.  I think we tend to have a rose-colored perspective of the 19th century, but really it was profuse wit…