Talk:The Gold-Bug

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Good articleThe Gold-Bug has been listed as one of the Language and literature good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
Article milestones
February 2, 2009Good article nomineeListed
February 5, 2009Good article nomineeListed
Current status: Good article
WikiProject Novels / Short story / 19th century (Rated GA-class, Mid-importance)
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"Cap'n Teedge"[edit]

Why is "Cap'n Teedge" linking to William Kidd? It's more likely to be a reference to Blackbeard, whose real name was Teach. Is there a good reason for linking to Kidd instead? If not, I'll change the link. P Ingerson (talk) 10:37, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

The story itself calls him "Captain Kidd" or just "Kidd", I can't find either "Cap'n" or "Teedge" anywhere in the text. Everything Google turns up for "Cap'n Teedge" is derived from Wikipedia — mostly this article (the Kidd article shows up because it's linked to here, not because the name occurs in the article), but the List of Wold Newton Universe characters article may indicate the source for the name. Whatever the case, I'll change it to just "Captain Kidd". Aitch Eye 16:42, 19 February 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. P Ingerson (talk) 00:09, 20 February 2006 (UTC)
"But I have just said that the figure was NOT that of a goat." "Well, a kid then--pretty much the same thing." "Pretty much, but not altogether," said Legrand. "You may have heard of one CAPTAIN Kidd. I at once looked upon the figure of the animal as a kind of punning or hieroglyphical signature ( excerpt from the Gold Bug ) --Neuromancien 02:52, 28 May 2007 (UTC)


Certainly it should be mentioned, if not already obvious to the reader, that William set out to find the treasure after being "bitten by the gold bug," a phrase commonly associated with the gold rush or treasure seekers, later meaning someone who's found a get-rich-quick scheme. The beetle itself, besides being used as a device in the plot, is in this way a wry pun. The story is then further twisted when William shows amusement at being thought crazy by his friends, and playing along, demonstrating the total self-awareness Poe gave his characters. Rainman420 09:25, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

It's a good point, but I have yet to find a source that says that. Maybe it is already that obvious? If I come across something, I'll add it. -Midnightdreary 15:10, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
I have found evidence that the expression "bitten by the gold bug" means made crazy with an obsession to possess gold, as in this reference. Fartherred (talk) 04:13, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
Must a literary critic point out this fact before it can be mentioned in the article? It seems significant that Poe takes a common figure of speech and gives the words literal meaning in his story. Fartherred (talk) 05:04, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, not necessarily a literary critic but, yes, I think someone other than us should make the connection. Especially for a recognized GA, we should be careful. Did the expression exist at the time? Did Poe make the pun intentionally? We can't back it up unless we can attribute it to a reliable source. --Midnightdreary (talk) 17:08, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
It is possible that the figure of speech originated with Poe's story, but if it predated Poe it must have been an intentional pun. Either way it is significant. Someone should have written about it. Wikipedians refer to any unsubstantiated nonsense as original research because our only concern is removing improper material. If we can find that a publisher has put somebody's unsubstantiated nonsense into print, then it qualifies for Wikipedia, until someone more capable than I starts discriminating between more and less reliable sources, as in WP:RELIABLE. Fartherred (talk) 12:11, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
It's true: the OR rule is pretty arbitrary. But, I'm not sure we can just assume "it must have been an intentional pun". Ya never know. That is the kind of thing I'd want some kind of back-up for (if only so we can blame someone else). I doubt that Poe originated the phrase; if that was the case, it would certainly have been written about as such. --Midnightdreary (talk) 22:31, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

The decoded message[edit]

By substitution the decoded message should be "...forty-one degrees..." instead of "...twenty-one degrees...". Can anyone confirm? Chinhnt2k3 (talk) 05:51, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

Yes, you're correct. Someone changed this recently but I've changed it back now. --- RockMFR 02:14, 15 April 2008 (UTC)

The "Analysis" chapter states that the cipher "uses polyphonic substitution." It really is neither a polyphonic nor homophonic substitution cipher, but a simple monoalphabetic substitution cipher.

In that respect also the Wikipedia Substitution cipher article wrongly lists "The Gold-bug" in its "Homophonic substitution" chapter. ErichS8 (talk) 12:32, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

Inspired by Robinson Crusoe?[edit]

I don't remember any cryptograms in Crusoe. In what way would Poe's interest have been inspired by it? For that matter, I'd thought it was pretty clearly established that Poe's interest in cryptography began with William Blair's "Cipher" article in Abraham Rees's "Cyclopaedia". --jdege (talk) 20:56, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:The Gold-Bug/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Brilliant, well-written article that is a pleasure to read! Cannot be improved! ShaShaJackson (talk) 01:15, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:The Gold-Bug/GA2. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Hi, due to the unorthodox review that this article received receive the first time around, all the aricle reveiwed by that reviewer (four) are being redone. Because I seemed unfair to put you at the back of the quene I decide to review it now. In general, the article is excellent. Looking through it I find no problems. However, I will give it a closer look, in case you are thinking of FAC, to see if I have any suggestions. —Mattisse (Talk) 23:06, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

  • I made some copy edits that you are free to revert.
  • Legrand offers to draw a picture of the bug, which he had captured and then allowed another to borrow. - allow another to borrow into the ground, or another to borrow the bug.
I'm not totally sure I know what you're saying here but I'll take a look at the wording. Let me know if I'm wrong. --Midnightdreary (talk) 01:24, 5 February 2009 (UTC)
  • he certainly popularized it during his time. (Is the meaning that Defore popularized it?)
Actually, that's supposed to point to Poe. --Midnightdreary (talk) 01:24, 5 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Poe's character Legrand explains his ability to solve the cipher in a similar manner as Poe does in "A Few Words on Secret Writing".[7] - would it be helpful to explain this "ability to solve the cipher in a similar manner as Poe"?
The line actually isn't comparing the ability to solve the cipher, but how it is explained. Any advice on making that clearer? --Midnightdreary (talk) 01:24, 5 February 2009 (UTC)

Very nice article, well layed out. —Mattisse (Talk) 23:49, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for taking a look! The other reviewer, I think, will do just fine once he/she gets a little more experience. I've thrown some advice at them either way. And, no worries between you and me - I have a mega amount of respect for you and appreciate your thorough reviews. You definitely catch things that I'd never see! --Midnightdreary (talk) 01:24, 5 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Yes, that covers it - unless the "Poe's character Legrand's explanation of his ability to solve the cipher is very like Poe's explanation" is not satisfactory - but you can fix that if it is not. —Mattisse (Talk) 01:33, 5 February 2009 (UTC)

Final GA review (see here for criteria)

  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose): Well written b (MoS): Follows MoS
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references): Well referenced b (citations to reliable sources): Sources are reliable c (OR): No OR
  3. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects): Sets the context b (focused): Remains focused on subject
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    Fair representation without bias: NPOV
  5. It is stable.
    No edit wars etc.:
  6. It is illustrated by images, where possible and appropriate.
    a (images are tagged and non-free images have fair use rationales): b (appropriate use with suitable captions):
  7. Overall:

Congratulations! —Mattisse (Talk) 01:37, 5 February 2009 (UTC)

Many thanks!! --Midnightdreary (talk) 01:44, 5 February 2009 (UTC)


Who is Herpin in Illustration by "Herpin" for an early edition? Is an article about him somewhere on Wikipedia? --09:19, 16 September 2011 (UTC), Utar (talk)

I think it's in quotes ("Herpin") because info about the artist is scant. --Midnightdreary (talk) 13:09, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
So only his name/pesudonym is known and full name or additional information not? Am I taking it right?
I am now co-working on bringing Czech version of article to Good article status and was puzzled that no link to article about Herpin, whoever it is, exist. --10:16, 17 September 2011 (UTC), Utar (talk)
I'm guessing it's a last name only (rather than a pseudonym) but, really, I have no reason or evidence to make that conclusion. Your guess is as good as mine, I suppose! --Midnightdreary (talk) 13:25, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
I couldn't find the artist, but here are the clues and guesses I pursued. The illustration is sourced from a U.S. edition of Ingram's Complete Poe, an early collection that was frequently reprinted, this one is estimated to be circa 1900. Herpin is a gallic name, so perhaps it first appeared with a European translation, but many immigrants were employed by U.S. publishers as illustrators and this may be the first printing of the work. There is a lot of interest in illustrators of this period, an enthusiast on the web may have some more information on this artist. cygnis insignis 15:57, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

Plot summary errors[edit]

The plot summary appears to be jumbled and thus erroneous.

At the story's beginning, Legrand does not notify the narrator to come and visit him; the narrator *happens to visit* just as Legrand and Jupiter return with the parchment. From the text: '"Ah, if I had only known you were here!" said Legrand, "but it's so long since I saw you; and how could I foresee that you would pay me a visit this very night of all others?"' This happenstance, as Legrand notes later, is just one of many coincidences that leads Legrand to believe that the discovery of the bug is fated.

Second, the current text says "The narrator has intense doubt and questions whether Legrand, who has recently lost his fortune, has gone insane." Legrand's family's fortune was lost many years before, as is indicated at the beginning of the story. The narrator indeed believes that he's suffering from insanity, but indicates early in the story that this is a chronic condition and the reason that Jupiter has been tasked with looking after him.— Preceding unsigned comment added by Ljadwin (talkcontribs) 02:39, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

WP:SOFIXIT. For such minor changes, there's no need for such a lengthy comment. Be bold. --Midnightdreary (talk) 13:30, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

most popular work?[edit]

In the intro we find: ""The Gold-Bug" was an instant success and was the most popular and most widely read of Poe's works during his lifetime." But later we in the article we find the discussion regarding The Raven and that "the bird beat the bug." It seems to me that the The Gold-Bug was not Poe's most widely read work--but probably his most widely read prose (The Raven being his most widely read poem.) However, I don't want to make the change unless someone can confirm which was actually his most popular and widely read work--was it The Raven or was it The Gold-Bug. Has anyone ever published an analysis of this based on tallying the number of times each was reprinted while Poe was alive, and the geographic distribution of each? MorbidAnatomy (talk) 13:41, 22 May 2014 (UTC)

Frequency chart[edit]

I don't find the included frequency analysis chart very useful, since each image has a different number of letters represented (and thus with differing widths), and uses unfortunate axis labels (percentage?). My chart (with letter frequency data from shows the one-one relationship of the substition cipher, and offers comparison to typical English language letter frequency. Any suggestions, or should I go ahead and make the substitution? --Quinn d (talk) 22:23, 7 February 2016 (UTC)

Frequency Analysis of Gold Bug Ciphertext.png

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Quinn d (talkcontribs) 22:20, 7 February 2016 (UTC)

Your chart is more confusing. Letter freq and cipher freq need to be vertically aligned; plaintext freq is not known to the cryptanalyst so it should not be present. Glrx (talk) 04:22, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

The count of Monte--Cristo.[edit]

Some ten years after The Gold-Bug Dumas wrote The count of Monte-Cristo, who found a treasure by the means of a note written in invisible ink and rendered visible by an incident caused by sleepiness. -- (talk) 13:29, 8 January 2019 (UTC)