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Edgar Allan Poe: Cryptography in Mirrored Rooms


Edgar Allan Poe: Cryptography in Mirrored Rooms


Edgar Allan Poe: Cryptography in Mirrored Rooms. Recently, questions have been raised about various themes that recur throughout a number of Poe’s masterworks: namely, the influence of his passion for cryptography, and the writings that grew out of them, such as The Gold Bug, and Eureka.

Some have theorized that cryptography serves not only as a template for the language, character and themes of much of Poe’s late fiction, but that his influence on cryptographers in general may have quite literally influenced the outcome of World War II and the developments of the Cold War, through the relationship between encoding and decoding.

Secrets and mysteries always appealed to Poe, and his interest in cryptography was probably further enhanced during his years in the US army, where cryptography and ciphers are part of military routine. His A Few Words On Secret Writing, his classic essay on cryptography, is first up in this compilation.  

It is for the modern reader to determine if (and to what extent) cryptography plays a role in Poe’s masterworks The Gold Bug and Eureka, included herein, a small collection of prototypical works by the master, whose extravagantly macabre tales have inspired such latter-day disciples as H.P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King.

EDGAR ALLAN POE (1809-1849) has yet to be surpassed as the greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale. Since their first publication in the 1830s and 1840s, Poe's grotesque and sublime tales of mystery and madness have established themselves as classics of short fiction.

Poe takes his place as the first postmodern thinker, a precursor of such figures as Pynchon, Borges, and William Gibson.

—Errol Morris


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