"The creative and the resolvent"

The origins of Poe's analytical method

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Beginning with the influential readings by Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida, poststructuralist fascination with Edgar Allan Poe's detective tales has treated them as fables of analytical method and exposed them as posing an insoluble challenge to totalizing frameworks of interpretive analysis. These studies overlook an excised paragraph from Poe's first detective tale in which Poe displays the debt his model of analysis owes to historical sources. This essay discovers the origins of Poe's model of analysis by recovering its discursive context and argues that the poststructuralist conclusions are anticipated in part by Poe's deliberate attempts to translate that model into narrative. This model, inherited from scientific debates in Renaissance history, defines analysis as comprised of two reciprocal processes-the process of resolution and the process of composition. The first part of this essay addresses the original first paragraph of "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" (1841) and the definition of analysis that its restoration enables. The discoveries there lead to a reading of "The Man of the Crowd" (1841) as a failed first attempt to translate the dynamic processes of resolution and composition into a narrative system. By recovering a first paragraph that the poststructuralist criticism misses, this study finds "The Man of the Crowd" central to Poe's strategies of narrative deferral and yields an important pre-history of the deconstructive critical aporia that is their legacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)466-493
Number of pages28
JournalNineteenth-Century Literature
Volume66
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2012

Fingerprint

Paragraph
Crowds
Detectives
Murder
Discursive
History
Fable
Criticism
Prehistory
Edgar Allan Poe
Restoration
Aporia
Jacques Lacan
Historical Sources
Debt
Jacques Derrida

Keywords

  • "The Man of the Crowd"
  • "The Murders in the Rue Morgue"
  • Detective fiction
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Poststructuralist criticism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory

Cite this

"The creative and the resolvent" : The origins of Poe's analytical method. / Hurh, John Paul.

In: Nineteenth-Century Literature, Vol. 66, No. 4, 03.2012, p. 466-493.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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