Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Top Ten Bookworm Delights

     I’m not a regular Top Ten Tuesday blogger, but every once in a while I’ll be in a mood to fill one out, and this week's topic at The Broke and the Bookish looked fun. (so, incidentally, does next week’s, so I’ll probably be doing that one, too). 

Ten Bookworm Delights

#1 That moment when a book soars beyond your expectations and/or gives you that warm, homey feeling where you immediately know it’s yours.

#2 Literary-inspired products, whether it be jewelry, candles, bumper stickers, or clothing.

#3 When a book honestly surprises you with a clever twist. Not just any twist, but one that’s so incredibly right and perfect that you squeal internally (or externally, if you’re that kind of person).

#4 Examining other people’s bookshelves and discovering that they have really good taste. (also, rearranging your own bookshelves needs to be on the list too, because it's one of my favorite things to do)
via ideal bookshelf
#5 FREE BOOKS. Free books that YOU ACTUALLY WANT. Or, books for really cheap prices.

#6 Antique books with beautiful covers.

#7 Cover reveals for books you are really looking forward to.

#8 Well-made, well-acted, accurate movie adaptations of your favorite books.

#9 Stumbling across a favorite book you haven’t read in years, and discovering that it’s just as good as you remembered.

#10 Cold, thunderously stormy evenings (or afternoons) that are perfect for a book and a cup of hot chocolate.

via tumblr
*Les Miserables book scarf, Pride and Prejudice earrings & Sherlock Holmes candle all from etsy

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Dupin Mysteries

Between 1841 and 1844, Edgar Allan Poe invented the genre of detective fiction with three mesmerizing stories of a young French eccentric named C. Auguste Dupin. Introducing to literature the concept of applying reason to solving crime, these tales brought Poe fame and fortune. Years later, Dorothy Sayers would describe “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” as “almost a complete manual of detective theory and practice.” Indeed, Poe’s short mysteries inspired the creation of countless literary sleuths, among them Sherlock Holmes. Today, the unique Dupin stories still stand out as utterly engrossing page-turners. (x)
     I had begun to read "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" last September, but had only gotten through the first page when a passing sentence struck my fancy and I was hit with inspiration for my own story "For Elise." I meant to finish Poe’s story eventually, but I’m afraid I never got around to it until yesterday, when my eyes landed upon my copy of The Complete Tales of Edgar Allan Poe. I actually had some free time that afternoon, so while I was at it I also read the other two Dupin stories, "The Mystery of Marie Rogêt" and "The Purloined Letter."

     I didn’t think I had read “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” before, but as the explanation to the mystery became clear, it seemed very familiar—I’m still not sure if I actually had read the story before, or if I had just heard about it. Either way, I wasn’t at all familiar with “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” (which was inspired by/correlates to an actual case that happened in America about the same time) or “The Purloined Letter.”

     I was curious about these stories since Poe is considered the father of the detective genre and C. Auguste Dupin a precursor to Sherlock Holmes (despite the latter character's disparaging remarks upon the eccentric Frenchman). But I also wondered by what chance it was that relegated Dupin to relative obscurity while Holmes has become the best-known fictional character in recent literature.

     Reading this trio of mysteries, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s inspiration for Holmes is evident in the writing style, logical thought processes, and the classic detective-and-sidekick setup. But Conan Doyle managed to bring in active adventure, distinct personalities, and even a dash of melodrama into his stories, whereas Poe's offering largely falters in such regards. Dupin has very little personality that we get to see; he exists almost solely to carry the burden of unraveling the mystery. He doesn't stand on his own—unlike in Holmes's case, the reader's interest of his character doesn't really extend outside the frame of the story. And our narrator does little to illuminate the reader as to his own personality. In fact, in the later two stories especially, he is almost unnecessary given that he is excluded from most of the dialogue, except to take the place of the reader to ask the occasional question. John Watson is used to fulfill this purpose as well, but he also is more personable and has a deeply endearing relationship with Sherlock Holmes that the reader gets to see.

     Poe's Dupin stories still have much to offer in entertainment value, and they are groundbreaking in their way. Their influence in setting the precedence for logic in criminal investigational fiction alone makes them worth the read for any mystery lover. However, I don't think they quite measure up to some of the later, more well-developed works of detective fiction.

(This is a slightly elaborated and expanded version of my goodreads review)
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