'The Gold-Bug' by Edgar Allan Poe (1843)

The Gold-Bug - Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe, The Gold-Bug (BookSurge Classics, 2004), 50pp

 

An enjoyable, crowd-pleasing short story about a hunt for buried treasure. The cryptography angle is interesting and, for its time, ground-breaking. Unfortunately, also of its time is the unashamedly racist depiction of the black servant Jupiter, which would be laughable if not for its sincerity.

I was also interested to learn that The Gold-Bug served as inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson in writing Treasure Island, whilst the man who oversaw the breaking of the Japanese diplomatic codes in World War Two traced his interest in cryptography back to this story. This modest little gem made waves.