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Furthermore, it appears to anticipate—perhaps prepare the way for—the irradiation and return of Matter and Spirit in Eureka. Indeed, Poe’s enigmatic cosmological prose-poem may be interpretable, at least in part, as an allegory of writing and reading. Resolving “Rue Morgue” into its elements—the Saturday News sources, the “newspaper accounts” that Killis Campbell once posited—does not challenge Poe’s originality: Poe wrote in June 1845, “To originate is carefully, patiently, and understandingly to combine” (Collected Writings 3:137).

27 Tellingly, the pronouns “its” and “it” were, in the earliest versions of Poe’s story, “his” and “he” (2:567n). The Saturday News piece refers to Coleman’s then “dropping her [his dead wife] upon the pavement”; Poe’s tale relates that the orangutan “hurled [the body of Madame L’Espanaye] through the window headlong” (2:567) to “the stone pavement” (2:557). Finally, the Saturday News piece asserts that, feigning insanity in prison (on the advice of his counsel, it is implied), Coleman responded to questions with answers “of the most outre kind”; Poe’s story remarks on “the outré character of 34 Edgar Allan Poe and the Dupin Mysteries its [the mystery’s] features” (2:547) and the “excessively outré” manner in which the younger L’Espanaye’s body was disposed of (2:557).

The first of the Saturday News pieces that would be suggestive for “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” titled simply “Orang Outang,” was published on 26 May 1838. 22 With regard to the aforementioned earlier plausible sources for Poe’s orangutan, none would have been as immediate for Poe as the Saturday News article. Notable correspondences are apparent. This piece, in part quoting from a Penny Magazine item about a remarkable orangutan in the London Zoo, offers, like “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” an orangutan of characteristic “prodigious” strength (Collected Works 2:559) that recovers from its voyage from Borneo, attempts to break out of its confinement, and, excited, engages in “unusual activity” (2:555), including dragging a heavy piece of furniture across the floor (2:564–67).

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