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.
Fan favorite Margot Livesey returns to the History of Literature to discuss her new novel, The Boy in the Field, and to help Jacke choose the greatest writers in Scotland’s history.
MARGOT LIVESEY is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels The Flight of Gemma Hardy, The House on Fortune Street, Banishing Verona, Eva Moves the Furniture, The Missing World, Criminals, and Homework. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Vogue, and the Atlantic, and she is the recipient of grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. The House on Fortune Street won the 2009 L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award. Born in Scotland, Livesey currently lives in the Boston area and is a professor of fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
In early 1900, the paths of three British writers – Rudyard Kipling, Mary Kingsley, and Arthur Conan Doyle – crossed in South Africa, during what has become known as Britain’s last imperial war. In this episode, Sarah LeFanu, author of the new book Something of Themselves: Kipling, Kingsley, Conan Doyle and the Anglo-Boer War, joins Jacke to talk about the experiences of these three writers. What did they expect? What did they find? And how did the experience change them as writers and people?
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