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The Cambridge Introduction to Edgar Allan Poe
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The Cambridge Introduction to Edgar Allan Poe
Cambridge University Press
9780521859677 - The Cambridge Introduction to Edgar Allan Poe - By Benjamin F. Fisher
Frontmatter/Prelims

The Cambridge Introduction to Edgar Allan Poe

Much remains uncertain about the life of Edgar Allan Poe, the mysterious author of one of the best-known American poems, “The Raven,” the Gothic romance “The Fall of the House of Usher,” and the first detective fiction, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” This book provides a balanced overview of Poe's career and writings, resisting the tendency of many scholars to sensationalize the more enigmatic aspects of his life. Benjamin F. Fisher outlines Poe's experiments with a wide range of literary forms and genres, and shows how his fiction evolved from Gothic fantasy to plausible, sophisticated psychological fiction. Fisher makes new and fruitful connections within this diverse body of work, and offers analyses of the major works. The critical afterlife of Poe's work is charted, and the book includes a guide to further reading, making this a handy starting-point for students and readers new to Poe.

Benjamin F. Fisher is Professor of English at the University of Mississippi.

The Cambridge Introductions to …

Authors

Edgar Allan Poe Benjamin F. Fisher

Jane Austen Janet Todd

Samuel Beckett Ronan McDonald

Walter Benjamin David Ferris

Joseph Conrad John Peters

Jacques Derrida Leslie Hill

Emily Dickinson Wendy Martin

George Eliot Nancy Henry

T. S. Eliot John Xiros Cooper

Michel Foucault Lisa Downing

William Faulkner Theresa M. Towner

F. Scott Fitzgerald Kirk Curnutt

Robert Frost Robert Faggen

Nathaniel Hawthorne Leland S. Person

Zora Neale Hurston Lovalerie King

James Joyce Eric Bulson

Herman Melville Kevin J. Hayes

Sylvia Plath Jo Gill

Ezra Pound Ira Nadel

Shakespeare Emma Smith

Harriet Beecher Stowe Sarah Robbins

Mark Twain Peter Messent

Walt Whitman M. Jimmie Killingsworth

Virginia Woolf Jane Goldman

W. B. Yeats David Holdeman

Topics

The American Short Story Martin Scofield

Creative Writing David Morley

Early English Theatre Janette Dillon

English Theatre, 1660–1900 Peter Thomson

Francophone Literature Patrick Corcoran

Modernism Pericles Lewis

Modern Irish Poetry Justin Quinn

Narrative (second edition) H. Porter Abbott

The Nineteenth-Century American Novel Gregg Crane

Postcolonial Literatures C. L. Innes

Russian Literature Caryl Emerson

Shakespeare’s Comedies Penny Gay

Shakespeare’s History Plays Warren Chernaik

Shakespeare’s Tragedies Janette Dillon

The Short Story in English Adrian Hunter

Theatre Studies Christopher Balme

Tragedy Jennifer Wallace


The Cambridge Introduction to Edgar Allan Poe

Benjamin F. Fisher


CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo, Delhi

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York

www.cambridge.org
Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9780521676915

© Benjamin F. Fisher 2008

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2008

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication Data

Fisher, Benjamin Franklin.
The Cambridge introduction to Edgar Allan Poe / Benjamin F. Fisher.
 p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-521-85967-7 – ISBN 978-0-521-67691-5 (pbk.)
1. Poe, Edgar Allan, 1809–1849 – Criticism and interpretation. I. Title.
PS2638.F45 2008
818–.309 – dc22 2008028110

ISBN 978-0-521-85967-7 hardback
ISBN 978-0-521-67691-5 paperback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.


Contents

Preface
vii
List of abbreviations
viii
Chapter 1     Life
1
Chapter 2     Contexts
12
The historical context
15
The American context
16
The context of slavery
18
Gender and sexuality
19
The graphic context
20
The urban context
21
The medical-scientific context
22
The psychological context
23
The existentialist-modernist context
24
Chapter 3     Works
27
Poetry
32
The fiction: tales
48
The novels and Eureka
87
The criticism
100
Chapter 4     Reception
112
Notes
124
A guide to further reading
129
Index
131

Preface

This book is aimed at advanced high school and lower-level college/university students. It consists of chapter 1, “Life,” in which the mythologies (often quite negative) that have grown up around Poe the person are avoided in favor of a factual account. Chapter 2, “Works,” provides coverage of Poe’s works and their place in the literature of the world. After all, what initially gained Poe widespread attention was his critical writings, an irony since during his teens and early twenties he intensely wanted to be regarded as a poet. An additional irony is that Poe very deliberately turned to the writing of fiction, chiefly short stories, which appeared in newspapers and literary magazines, because such wares had wide circulation and usually paid sooner and better than the process of turning copy into books tended to do. As scholars have discovered, some of Poe’s works were copied from their original sources by newspapers in distant locales, or were pirated by British periodicals. Poe’s fiction and some of his poems continue to be read, to be sure, as his most appealing imaginative writings. Because his critical ideas appeared mainly in reviews instead of in a single, extended book, they have, with few exceptions, not attracted a readership so large as that for the poems and tales. Great controversies enliven biographical and critical approaches to Poe and his writings, as will be apparent in the following pages. Chapter 2 treats “Contexts.” Chapter 4 focuses on “Critical reception,” followed by a “Guide to further reading.”


Abbreviations

E&R

Edgar Allan Poe: Essays and Reviews, ed. G. R. Thompson. New York: Library of America, 1984.

H

The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. James A. Harrison. 17 vols. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1902; reprinted New York: AMS Press, 1965; reprinted (with “Introduction” by Floyd Stovall) New York: AMS Press, 1979.

M

Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Thomas Ollive Mabbott, with the assistance of Eleanor D. Kewer and Maureen Cobb Mabbott. 3 vols. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1968–78.

O

The Letters of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. John Ward Ostrom. rev. edn. New York: Gordian Press, 1966.

P

Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Burton R. Pollin. 5 vols. Vol. 1 Boston: Twayne, 1981; vols. 2–5 New York: Gordian Press, 1985–97.

P&T

Edgar Allan Poe: Poetry and Tales, ed. Patrick F. Quinn. New York: Library of America, 1984.




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