The "Men of the Crowd"
Although "hardboiled" narratives became a popular literary genre in the early- to mid-twentieth century, these writers were not the first to create characters and stories in this genre. Early creators of the tough detective were preceded by the first "hardboiled" literary detective, Edgar Allan Poe's C. Auguste Dupin of The Murders in the Rue Morgue. Although Poe is credited with having invented detective fiction in stories such as Murders and The Purloined Letter, his most "noirish" story is The Man of the Crowd. It is commonly believed amongst literary critics that the narrator of Poe's The Man of the Crowd is not sane. They often point to the line which reads "in my then peculiar mental state," which clearly shows that the narrator, during the time of the story, at least, did not possess a sane person's frame of mind. However, this idea is derived not simply from content, but from style and form as well. Through the use of specific words, form, context, and content, the reader is provided with information about the characters in the story, thereby giving him or her an accurate framework within which to interpret these characters. Although the sanity of Poe's narrator is...
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