Saturday, July 11, 2009
Poe Fridays (on Saturday)
So, The Gold Bug. The unnamed narrator's friend, William Legrand, is bitten by what he believes to be a solid gold beetle. Legrand becomes obsessed with searching for treasure, making his friend, the narrator, believe he might be going crazy. Some time later, Legrand's servant, Jupiter, returns to the narrator and asks him to come to Sullivan's Island to help his master. Legrand is convinced he can find the treasure, and has a cryptogram to help him. After an unusual search, they do find the treasure, buried by Captain Kidd.
I think this story proves why Poe is the master of the SHORT story, not the longish-short story. This just felt too long - I didn't care for any of the characters, and portions of the story drug on. The character of Jupiter would probably be considered racist in today's literature - modern writers would be excoriated for writing a character like that.
However, I found the cryptology section to be fascinating. It was not fast reading - I really had to concentrate - but the method of solving the mystery of where the treasure could be found was something quite special. After the initial publication of the story, interest in cryptology exploded, and I can understand why.
Next week we try another short story, The Devil in the Belfry. Poe Fridays is hosted by Kristen at WeBeReading.