The Mystery to a Solution: Poe, Borges, and the Analytic Detective Story

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JHU Press, Sep 18, 1996 - Literary Criticism - 482 pages
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When Poe invented the analytic detective genre in the 1840s with the three Dupin stories, his underlying project was to examine the very nature of self-consciousness. But the tradition of detective fiction these stories inspired would draw on only the most superficial aspects of his work. One hundred years after Poe, however, Borges would reinterpret the genre with three detective stories of his own and revive Poe's original, ambitious intention to analyze "the analytic power." In The Mystery to a Solution, John Irwin brilliantly examines the deeper significance of the genre Poe created and the meaning of Borges's efforts to "double" its origin. Using a methodology that combines history, literary history, and practical and speculative criticism, Irwin pursues the issues underlying the detective genre into areas as various as the history of mathematics, classical mythology, the double-mirror structure of self-consciousness, handedness, the anthropology of Evans and Frazer, the structure of chess, automata, the mind-body problem, the etymology of labyrinth, and scores of other topics. Irwin honors the aesthetic impact of the genre he discusses by mirroring in his study the dynamics of a detective story - the uncovering of mysteries, the accumulation of evidence, the tracing of clues, and the final solution that ties it all together.
  

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Contents

Detective Fiction as High Art Conserving a Sense of
1
Borges and the Paradox of SelfInclusion Infinite
13
ContainerContained The Everting of the Letter The Game
22
Borgess Death and the Compass The Color Red
30
Doubling the Dupin Stories Poet and Mathematician
37
Jung The ThreeFour Oscillation in Alchemy and the Cabala
43
The Cyclically Recurring Duel The Two World Wars Christian
58
The Four Colors The Missing Fourth The Suicidal Liebestod
68
Sexual Victims Eleonora Borges and His Mother The Test
236
The Labrys The House of the Double Axe Evans and Frazer
246
Labyrinth and Chessboard The Red King and Fire Light
256
Axe and Axis Fold as Incision Matching Edges and Coinciding
267
Zenos Paradoxes Chess as Sublimated Violence The Dream
276
Mirrors and Fatherhood Encyclopedias as Matrix Symbols
285
Mental Fatherhood Writing as Paternal Inheritance A Fathers
297
Dionysus and Christ The Daystar versus the Thinking Fire
312

Lewis Carrolls Red King A Riddle Whose Answer Is Chess
75
Who Is Albert? Dream of the Red Chamber Alice and the
85
Mirrors and Mazes Mutually Constitutive Oppositions
95
The ChessPlaying Automaton The Privilege of the Right
104
White and Black The Temporal Privilege Odd and Even
115
Diamond and Hourglass Sir Thomas Browne English French
129
The Garden of Cyrus The Quincuncial Network Decussation
138
Geometric Atomism The Spherical Number Five The History
149
The Quincuncial Labyrinth Sidereal and Subterranean V
155
Poe and Borges as Southerners A MilitaryLiterary Heritage
164
The Red Thread The LockedRoom Problem The Hidden
176
The Big Bow Mystery Poes Locked Room and the Sense
185
The Battle of Wits between Writer and Reader A Clue to
195
Theseus in the Locked Room Oedipus and the Detective Story
201
Oedipus and Theseus Recognition and Acknowledgment
207
The Repressed Name The MotherSubstitute Psychological
229
The Fantasy of a Total Return Dematerializing the Body
318
Poet and Mathematician Analysis and Algebra The Rise
330
Mathematics and Politics in NineteenthCentury France
340
Mathematics and Logic Wallaces Stanley William Hamilton
357
Bryants Mythology Mathematical and Linguistic Roots
368
Even andor Odd A Figure of Gods Relation to the Universe
378
The ThreeFour Oscillation Playing Poes Game
385
The Overdetermined D Radicals and Roots Signs
391
A Platonic Dialogue Eureka as Detective Story Marked
398
Doubling Poes Mathematics Fermats Last Theorem
417
Linking First to Last Doubling the Origin The Man Who Knew
424
The Dupin Tales Sequence of Publication The Order
434
Borgess Reading of Poe Borges and Lacan Buried
442
Circling Back to the Beginning ProgressionRegression
450
Index
465
Copyright

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El cuento hispanoamericano

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About the author (1996)

John T. Irwin is Decker Professor of the Humanities at the Johns Hopkins University. A former editor of the Georgia Review, he now edits the series Johns Hopkins: Poetry and Fiction for the Johns Hopkins University Press. His books include Doubling and Incest/Repetition and Revenge, The Heisenberg Variations, and American Hieroglyphics, all available from Johns Hopkins.

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