C. Auguste Dupin, the predecessor of Sherlock Holmes
Authors: Revati and SherlockExtra
Sherlock Holmes is a fantastic detective, who is rightly the most famous crime solver worldwide. We are fond of him – that is why we would like to dedicate an article to his brilliant predecessor, the sleuth of Edgar Allan Poe: C. Auguste Dupin. Our further reasons to do this are the righteousness and the recognition of the oeuvre of Edgar Allan Poe.
Everybody learns a little bit about Edgar Allan Poe in high school. You analyse some of his poems and it is mentioned that he created the genre of detective story. He had a vivid imagination, so you really need lots of CGI for the screen adaptation of his novels. No wonder that this young man, whose life is so full of mystery, who had such a fertile imagination, created Dupin, the detective who solves the oddest mysteries – though Poe himself did not use or write down the term detective.
Revati describes Dupin the following way:
" Dupin’s family was rich, but he lost his wealth. He studied mathematics, perhaps that is why his thinking is so systematic and deductive. After growing poor he lead a sequestered, thoughtful life, reading was the only passion he sticked to. He dedicated most of his time to broaden his knowledge.
The motto of his method was: „You only have to know one thing: what to observe.” He can solve his cases because he is able to identify himself with the criminal and this way he can look really deep, he sees things that remain unnoticed for superficial observers. At the same time he admits that sometimes you miss the point by looking too deep – in cases like that it is enough to investigate the surface, or you have to consider the whole image to see clearly. He states if you find something extraordinary, you have to pay attention to it, because it can easily be the clue. His deductions follow the method of reversed thinking, and his aim always is to find out the truth. He stresses that the strange is not the same as the mysterious, and you can find the truth by following the line of the unusual.
Dupin is very similar to Sherlock Holmes, they have the same character and social background. Both are well-educated, literate and both have excellent observation skills. Their biggest difference is that while Holmes is a real eccentric, Dupin simply lives in recluse. "
It is clearly seen from Revati’s description that you just cannot do anything else but love Dupin, if you like the character of Holmes. The former is more talkative, but their way of thinking is similar. Dupin is a pleasant storyteller.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never denied that he was largely impressed by the works of Poe. The style of the American novelist sometimes can be recognized in his writings.
There is an interesting story related to this. The famous illusionist, Harry Houdini accused Doyle with plagiary. Houdini, who was a close friend of Doyle for some time, knew every trick from the world of jugglery. Nowadays plagiary means someone using the work of someone else as his/her own. Doyle was a really talented writer, he did not need to copy the work of others. He changed a lot in the story of Poe, and invented new characters. In ancient times Romans took over the names and sculptures of Greek gods, and they still could make new sculptures and gods. Both the Greek and the Roman mythology are important parts of the culture. In the same way are both the works of Poe and Conan Doyle integral parts of literature.
By all means we have to nail down that the Houdini plagiary does not refer to monotonous copying. It means that the famous magician recognized that Conan Doyle used a modified version of Poe’s trick from The Purloined Letter in his A Scandal in Bohemia. Doyle changed many details in his story, and all the characters and events were his creations. In the adventure the letter had been changed to a photograph, and he masterfully made possible for Holmes to wear one of his many disguises. Houdini never put Doyle's writing talent into question. As an artist and magician, he was rightfully vain and proud of his tricks. He only pointed out that the author based a story upon a famous magic trick.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a very prolific writer, he penned many non-Sherlock stories. His The Lost World became an inspiration for lots of books and adaptations. His historical works are also outstanding. He was a truly ingenuous, productive writer. His books prove that he never needed plagiary.
In the documentary The Man Who Killed Sherlock Holmes it is stated wrongly that detective duos were born with Holmes and Watson. Namely Dupin has a friend too who writes down his adventures and sometimes accompanies him to the crime scene. He can be considered the predecessor of dr. Watson.
The kind doctor knows who Dupin is. In The Adventure of the Resident Patient Sherlock reads out a passage from a Poe novel. Long before that, in the A Study in Scarlet Watson tells the detective: „You remind me of Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin. I had no idea that such individuals did exist outside of stories.”
We are beholden to Edgar Allan Poe and his smart sleuth – without them there would be no Sherlock Holmes.
We could go on listing the similarities between the works of the two writers, but we do not want to deprive anyone of the excitement of reading Poe novels. So we ask the curious detectives to delve into the world of reading and solve the mysteries for themselves.
Lots of famous Holmes actors read out poems by Poe, for example Basil Rathbone and Benedict Cumberbatch. Andrew Scott, who played Moriarty in the BBC series, portrayed C. Auguste Dupin in a radio play.
Hungarian Edgar Allan Poe stamp:
Authors: Revati and SherlockExtra
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