The First Detective Story?What is considered to be the first true detective story and why? I know that it was "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" but I dont know why.

Asked on by j1195059

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billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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C. Auguste Dupin was an amateur detective. Poe invented some of the crucial elements of an amateur or private-detective story. For one thing, the detective has to be on good terms with the police. This is the only way he can get involved in serious crimes such as murders. Sherlock Holmes, like Dupin, is extremely helpful to the police. They come to him for advice because he is so brilliant and also, like Dupin, always sees to it that the police get the credit for solving the mystery. Consequently the police are more than willing to give Dupin and Holmes (who was modeled after Poe's creation) all the help they can, including what is usually most important, free access to the scene of the crime. By having free access to the scene of the crime, the amateur detective is able to take the reader into such gruesome settings as the room where the orangutan killed the women. Readers like these stories because they get to see the insides of places they could never visit otherwise and to meet all sorts of interesting characters. Usually the amateur detective becomes emotionally involved with some other character in the story,although he may only begin his inquiries out of boredom and curiosity. This factor augments his motivation and makes it more sympathetic and more plausible. In "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" Dupin is trying to help the bank employee who is falsely accused of the murders of the two women. Dupin knows the bank employee personally and feels sorry for him. Holmes frequently becomes emotionally involved with his clients or with innocent suspects.With both Dupin and Holmes the stories are told by a friendly companion, so that the detective's thoughts and observations do not have to be revealed to the reader, usually until the end.

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Like all questions of interpretation, the answer depends on how you're defining the terms that make up the question ("first" and "detective"). After all, Oedipus is seeking the answer to a crime, yes?


That aside, you are correct that Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue" is often considered the first real detective story. The reasons are first that an actual detective is present. Second, that detective (Dupin) influenced other writers in the field; you can see Doyle working against Poe's model in the Holmes stories. Third, a framework of law and order, and of justice that can be pursued within a  human frame, is established. A crime exists for Dupin to solve, rather than just a curse or a tragedy. Fourth, Dupin assumes that crimes can be solved, and brings methodology to the process, rather than just flailing about.

kwoo1213's profile pic

kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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Yes, Poe is considered the father of the detective story.  This story was a model for many detective writers that followed him!  His impact on the detective story is still felt today!

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