The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Gold-Bug, The

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The Encyclopedia Americana
Gold-Bug, The
Edition of 1920. See also The Gold-Bug on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

GOLD-BUG, The. ‘The Gold-Bug,’ by Edgar Allan Poe, belongs to the group which the author called Tales of Ratiocination. This type of story, which was virtually created by Poe and which is exemplified in the many detective stories written since his day, deals with the solution of a mystery, and has two climaxes — the first where the explanation is made known, the second where the method of discovering the explanation is revealed. It is usually told by a friend or semi-confidant of the person who evolves the solution, since by this device the author is able to present more easily details in the order necessary to produce the greatest effect. ‘The Gold-Bug’ tells of the discovery of buried treasure through the reading of a cipher memorandum and the scene is laid on an island near Charleston, S. C. As a tale it is remarkably well knit, and repeated readings will discover new instances of seemingly trivial details which are introduced because of their relationship to something in another part of the story. The gold-bug itself, which gives the title, is cleverly used to mislead the reader and to throw him off the true scent when the writer so desires. The work was first published as a prize story in the Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper in 1843 and appeared in the volume of Poe's tales issued in 1845. In Poe's lifetime, at least, it was the most popular of his prose pieces, but the author sometimes spoke of it rather slightingly. His other chief tales of ratiocination which may be grouped with it are the detective stories in which the character of Dupin appears — the ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue,’ the ‘Purloined Letter’ and the ‘Mystery of Marie Rôget’

William B. Cairns.