RARA-AVIS: On Poe's Murderous Ape

From: Frederick Zackel ( fzackel@wcnet.org)
Date: 28 Feb 2004

Poe invented the detective story when he set Reason (Auguste Dupin) against the Murderous Ape (the dark, violent, criminal side of the Id?) in the Rue Morgue.

The battle is always between Ratiocination & the Murderous Ape.

>From Poe it goes to Charles Baudelaire ("Comes the Charming Evening" and
opium) across the Channel to that Dandy Sherlock Holmes (who stands for Pure Reason) & that other Dandy Oscar Wilde.

Holmes solves chessbook puzzles or does cocaine. Oscar Wilde creates the Theater and "Art for Art's Sake" which Hammett gets pissed at, thus creating Joel Cairo.

Hammett sees the Murderous Ape in himself, as well as the mean streets above the Stockton Tunnell, which scares the bejessus outa him.

Holmes begets Agatha Christie's puzzles and all the cozys with amatuer detectives.

Hammett jumps into the bottle and stops writing. (Too many fallen beams.)

BTW, I'm teaching the Falcon. Not one of the 78 students in two sections had ever seen the movie!! So I told them Sam Spade is Gandalf and the Falcon is the Ring. ("Watch the faces when people see the Falcon," I said.)

Ah well. Nobody still knows nothing about Mark Twain and Brigid?

How about a hand-typed essay by Hammett about "Pace in the Modern Novel"?


Frederick Zackel

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