Saturday, October 23, 2010

Voltaire's "The Dog and the Horse" (short story, non-genre, free): Never look at pugmarks of royal animals!

Quote from English translation of short story The Dog and the Horse by Voltaire
From editor's introduction in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, October 1954, where it was reprinted: "One of the earliest detectives in history--the prototype of Edgar Allan Poe's Dupin".

Indian readers will find a lot of similarity with Akbar/Birbal stories; & equally funny. Though not exactly with a happy ending that characterizes local variety.

Story summary.

Zadig, a philosopher who's extensively studied "the properties of plants & animals", is walking through the woods on the banks of Euphrates when he is accosted by queen's eunuch & king's huntsman. Looks like queen's bitch & king's horse have escaped.

Zadig becomes prime suspect -- nah, convict for having stolen the animals -- because of his superb reasoning abilities! Fun ensues.

See also.

  1. Plato's "Apology" (download English translation): Innocent & funny interactions of Zadig with royal animal searchers reminded me of similar naivete of Socrates in this mostly funny classic.

Fact sheet.

First published: 1747? Where?
Download full text from ebooks@Adelaide. A much more readable translation is available as a somewhat less convenient download - in scans of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, October 1954, included in this larger package.
Rating: A.
Related: Stories of Voltaire.


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