iPoe Challenge review: The Gold-Bug

The narrator relates the tale of a friend, William Legrand, who following the discovery of a bug made of solid-gold, seemingly heads down a path of insanity as his demeanor and character rapidly begin to change. Legrand’s apparent bout of insanity culminates when he takes a trip with his Negro attendant Jupiter and the narrator, to a heavily wooded area on the island where he lives (Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina), where it soon becomes apparent that the narrator’s initial ‘diagnosis’ on his friend’s mental condition, is not as accurate as first subscribed.

While reading this story my mind kept on reminiscing on any number of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five novels. Given that the cast of The Gold Bug are all adults, and the chief protagonists in Blyton’s works are children, this is perhaps an unusal link to make, but the mystery and adventure element of Poe’s tale certainly does cast up some similarities.

The real highlight in this story comes from Poe’s obvious love of cryptology. Although somewhat labourious to read in parts, his demonstration of cryptological problem-solving is nothing short of genius. It’s said that this story brought about a revival for enigmatic code-breaking during the Victorian-era, and reading the ingeniousness descriptions of how one of Poe’s characters breaks a cryptic mystery, I can see why – it almost had me ‘Googling’ for cryptology puzzles to solve :o)

As drawn out as it is, I did find The Gold Bug to be a very enjoyable story. Sure it’s monotonous at times, and the characters are perhaps not as well realised as they could have been, but it contains enough ‘buried gems’ (quite literally :o)), to keep you reading to the end.

Not the best Poe short I’ve read to date but a clever and entertaining story nonetheless, and one that demonstrates quite eloquently, that Poe was able to turn his inked nib to many different genres.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Notable Quote: “Finding that no satisfaction was to be obtained of Jupiter, whose whole intellect seemed to be absorbed by “de bug,” I now stepped into the boat, and made sail. With a fair and strong breeze we soon ran into the little cove to the northward of Fort Moultrie, and a walk of some two miles brought us to the hut. It was about three in the afternoon when we arrived. Legrand had been awaiting us in eager expectation. He grasped my hand with a nervous empressement which alarmed me and strengthened the suspicions already entertained. His countenance was pale even to ghastliness, and his deep-set eyes glared with unnatural luster.”

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).

Comments

  1. Stephen Isabirye says:

    Talking of reminiscing about Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books, I am glad to inform you that I have published a book on Enid Blyton, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (www.bbotw.com).
    Stephen Isabirye

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      How wonderful Stephen. I’m off to check that book out.
      Thanks for stopping by
      Rob