The Forlorn Demon: Didactic and Critical Essays

By Allen Tate | Go to book overview

4
The Angelic Imagination Poe as God

WITH SOME EMBARRASSMENT I assume the part of amateur theologian and turn to a little-known figure, Edgar Allan Poe, another theologian only less ignorant than myself. How seriously one must take either Poe or his present critic in this new role I prefer not to be qualified to say. Poe will remain a man of letters-I had almost said a poet-whose interest for us is in the best sense historical. He represents that part of our experience which we are least able to face up to: the Dark Night of Sense, the cloud hovering over that edge of the eye which is turned to receive the effluvia of France, whence the literary power of his influence reaches us today. In France, the literary power has been closely studied; I shall not try to estimate it here. Poe's other power, that of the melancholy, heroic life, one must likewise leave to others, those of one's own compatriots who are not interested in literature. All readers of Poe, of the work or of the life, and the rare reader of both, are peculiarly liable to the vanity of discovery. I shall be concerned in the ensuing remarks with what I think I have seen in Poe that nobody else has seen:

-56-

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The Forlorn Demon: Didactic and Critical Essays
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface v
  • Acknowledgements *
  • Contents *
  • 1 - The Man of Letters In The Modern World 3
  • 2 - To Whom is the Poet Responsible? 18
  • 3 - The Symbolic Imagination The Mirrors of Dante 32
  • 4 - The Angelic Imagination Poe as God 56
  • 5 - Our Cousin, Mr. Poe 79
  • 6 - Is Literary Criticism Possible? 96
  • 7 - Johnson On The Metaphysical Poets 112
  • 8 - Longinus and The "New Criticism" 131
  • 9 - A Miscellany 152
  • Index 177
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