Plots and Characters in the Fiction and Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe

Plots and Characters in the Fiction and Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe

Plots and Characters in the Fiction and Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe

Plots and Characters in the Fiction and Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe

Excerpt

This handbook is a companion to my Plots and Characters in the Fiction of Henry James, Plots and Characters in the Fiction and Sketches of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Plots and Characters in the Fiction and Narrative Poetry of Herman Melville, all published by Archon Books. It should prove useful in several ways. The general reader may wish to have some preliminary understanding of the plot or other contents of a certain Poe story or poem which he has not yet read, or he may wish to review the contents of a work which he has read. The specialist may wish to review several plots and compare Poe's treatment of certain subjects or themes early in his career and later, or perhaps to compare Poe's treatment of some element with that of another writer. It may be that the reader will wish to refresh his memory of a certain name or the function of a certain person in Poe's Gothic and burlesque gallery of characters. If he remembers the work in which the name figures, he can easily find the name in the alphabetized list of all persons in Poe's fiction and poetry; further, the entry there will also enable him to recollect where the character may be found in Poe.

Anyone who wishes to read the summaries chronologically, by alternating from the titles in the "Chronology" to their summaries, will be fascinated to note Poe's steady increase in control over his genres but with it his incredible if only occasional lapses back into ineptness. Of course, A Cask of Amontillado, 1846, is better than Metzengerstein, 1832; and 'Annabel Lee,' 1849, is better than 'The Lake: To.------,' 1827. But what are we to say of a poet whose very late works include such embarrassments as [ 'To Helen'] [ "I saw thee..."], 1848, and X-ing a Paragrab, 1849? Commenting on the second 'To Helen,' Vincent Buranelli laments that "It is useless to ask how the poet of the first 'To Helen' could have written such stuff. Poe simply had Wordsworth's talent for . . .

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