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Professor Paul (Montclair State College) has exhumed the case of Mary Cecelia Rogers from its knowns in the purple penny press of the mid-19th century through all the horrified speculation it aroused, the uncertainty which has surrounded it comparable to Lizzie Borden, and the proof positive he now asserts. For those who do not remember the slender body of facts surrounding the corpus delicti on the Jersey side (or Poe's famous version of Marie Roget, included in the appendix) Paul provides them from the only sources there were -- namely the newspapers, which had quite a scandal to monger. Mary Rogers left her position in a New York ""seegar store"" having solicited fifty dollars from a former suitor anti she was later found in a thicket, raped, contused and showing signs of ""considerable excoriation."" Her fiance, a cork cutter who preferred opening them, finally committed suicide on that spot. A year later Poe wrote his famous ""hoax"" (according to Paul) which helped to keep the case enclosed for a hundred years. The generally accepted theory was that she had had an unsuccessful abortion and been dumped -- Paul accepts the abortion but predates it by Two days, giving leeway for his identification of the murderer. It also provides him with a dual exercise in detection since much of this dovetails with Poe's hard-pressed use of the story and revision thereof. It is a crime which has fascinated many (Edmond Pearson, etc.), and familiar or otherwise it's nice to have these old bones of contention to chew on, even where they might stick in the craw of certain specialists (John Evangelist Walsh, for one). In any case Paul's version is precise, considered and amusing.

Pub Date: June 15th, 1971
Publisher: Prentice-Hall