Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 27 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Besides inventing the detective story, Poe explored mystery solving in other tales. He defined “ratiocination” as a mental process and sought to describe it throughout his writing. In fiction, he associated it with either escaping from peril or investigating crime. Poe’s “tales of ratiocination” thus include works like “Berenice,” “A Descent into the Maelström,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Premature Burial,” and “The Sphinx,” which focus on attempts at reasoning. In developing detective fiction, Poe emphasized analysis instead of whether readers—or even protagonists—could solve an enigma. Before writing his first detective story, he imagined criminal investigations in “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “William Wilson,” and “The Man of the Crowd”; afterward, he refined the genre in “The Gold-Bug,” “The Oblong Box,” and “ ‘Thou Art the Man.’ ” Poe remained fascinated by the process, not the result, which explains why each tale ends with another mystery to solve.

Keywords: Edgar Allan Poe, mystery, solution, detective fiction, tales of ratiocination, horror fiction, recursive endings, analysis, abduction, cognitive literary studies

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.