Scholarship on Edgar Allan Poe's Dupin stories consistently focuses on the stories' influence on the genre of detective fiction. One of the foundational genre elements pioneered by Poe in these tales is the sidekick/narrator. Throughout detective fiction, the less-intelligent sidekick has become a standard fixture, a convenient trope in foregrounding the brilliant machinations of the detective's mind. The attention the literature gives to the narrator of the Dupin tales is almost universally in terms of the sidekick/narrator figure as a trope of detective fiction; in this way, it seems that Dupin's companion has come to be read in terms of what he has in common with his successors, the Watsons and Archie Goodwins of mystery stories, rather than more strictly on the terms of what makes him unique. This thesis examines the ways in which the narrator alternately highlights (in subtle ways) and attempts to obfuscate (in equally subtle ways) his role as the fictional author of the tales. The narrator's role as writer complicates the reading of Dupin as the autonomous master of his own narrative, and as the narrator himself as a generic, dim-witted sidekick. In this way, Dupin and the narrator occupy flip sides of the same narrative coin—Dupin serves as the showman, and the narrator, the invisible author. As contrasting, complementary doubles of one another, they perform the function of collaborative authors, each one equally essential to the production of the tales. Similarly, this reevaluation of the narrator/sidekick as an author figure brings out ways in which the narrator's genius parallels and matches the genius of Dupin.



College and Department

Humanities; English



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Edgar Allan Poe, detective fiction, Dupin, narrator