What can you say about The Philosophy of Composition?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

What is Poe's reason for writing The Philosophy of Composition?

-- Anonymous, May 09, 2000



I don't suppose it is a secret that "The Raven" is Poe's most famous work of poetry or prose. It was the singular piece that brought him the attention he so deserved. There is little doubt in me that Poe was questioned incessantly about his methods and his source for this work. To my mind, this, "The Philosophy of Composition" was his response to that question.

However, Poe says that in a note from Charles Dickens, Dickens' mentioned that a fellow author had written a story "backwards". Basically that the author had, "... involved his hero in a web of difficuties, forming the second volume, and then, for the first, cast about him for some mode of accounting for what had been done."

It is most likely this note from Dickens, if true, is what triggered this essay. While I find it to be a plausible method for composition and I believe Poe was being honest and factual in his preferred methods, ideas and general philosophy on his principles of poetry, I remain suspect that he actually used this method to construct "The Raven". If I recall correctly, this poem went through numerous revisions prior to it being offered for publication. That he followed his poetic principles in detail is apparent. That he actually used the mechanics of construction as described in "The Philosophy of Composition", well... I'll suspend judgement until I know more.

What do you think Annie?

Best Regards,

-- Anonymous, May 10, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ