Poe, Journalist & Critic

Poe, Journalist & Critic

Poe, Journalist & Critic

Poe, Journalist & Critic

Excerpt

AT this late date an investigation of the literary criticism of Edgar Poe requires some excuse, if only to provide the investigator with a justification for concentrating his energies for a number of years.I started this study with no more in mind than an interpretation and reconstruction of what Poe actually said as a critic.At the time I began transforming my notes into a manuscript, there were no full-length studies of Poe as a critic, and many of the essays that did explore the subject were concerned exclusively with his aesthetic principles. Taking my cue from Poe's own statement that a theory is only as good as its practice, I intended to examine his book reviews with the purpose of evaluating his success in applying his own literary theories to the work of others.Intentions often change as a study progresses, however, and during the years that passed before this study reached its final form, others anticipated some of my findings with equivalent or superior insights. Consequently the purpose and form of this book changed, as it became necessary to take into account the constantly increasing fund of Poe scholarship and criticism.Even as the pages of my final revision were being typed, significant articles on Poe were appearing in scholarly journals, articles that demanded my consideration and acknowledgment.

Nevertheless, I was able to retain the opinion which motivated this study—that all too often evaluations have been made of Poe as a literary critic that misinterpreted his idiom, failed to consider the often intolerable pressures of a journalistic career, and ignored the application of his theories to the work of others.Conspicuously neglected, though often mentioned in passing, has been the operative effectiveness of the critical theories of the last half of the eighteenth century in determining Poe's approach to the critical act and even in shaping some of his principles.Edward Davidson's . . .

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