The History of Literature #276 Edgar Allan Poe Invents the Detective Story | “The Purloined Letter”

In 1965, the critic Joseph Wood Krutch studied the available evidence and came to a surprising conclusion. “Edgar Allan Poe,” he wrote, “invented the detective story in order that he might not go mad.” Arthur Conan Doyle, a man who knew a thing or two about detective stories, was quick to credit his boyhood hero with inspiring Sherlock Holmes and all the mysteries that came after. “Poe…was the father of the detective tale,” he said, “and covered its limits so completely that I fail to see how his followers can find any fresh ground which they can confidently call their own…Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?”

In this episode, Jacke takes a look at Poe’s detective M. Dupin, the structure of the Dupin stories, and considers the similarities between Dupin and Sherlock Holmes. Then Jacke reads “The Purloined Letter,” the third and final (and perhaps best) of the Dupin stories.

Help support the show at or (We appreciate it!) Find out more at, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to

New!!! Looking for an easy to way to buy Jacke a coffee? Now you can at Your generosity is much appreciated!

The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s