INTERPRETATION OF CITY IN THE SEA????? : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

I need an interpretation of the city in the sea

-- Anonymous, June 15, 2000


Dear Cameron,

I am a third year English student at University and I have studied Edgar Allan Poe's work several times:

I am not sure whether this reply will arrive too late or not, since I have only just found the site, and consequently the question which you formulate with relation to Edgar Allan Poe's "The City in the Sea".

You quite reasonably enquire about interpretation of the poem, for it would appear that this text can be read in a bifurcate manner, conducive to both a literal and a symbolic or abstract "meaning" (if one can employ this term, or understanding, if you will).

It would appear that the literal interpretation is quite straightforward, the notion of a strange, foreign "exoticised" city gradually sinking into the sea (one must recall here the great Romantic theme of evasion or escape from their present time by spatial or temporal means, for instance Coleridge's "Kubla Khan").

However, there is a critic who succinctly summarises at the very least four different interpretations, including the psychological notion of ego collapsing into the id, a religious notion of a city destroyed out of a sense of [divine] retribution, and so on... Unfortunately I do not have full details of the critical source of these arguments here and now, however I can tell you that it is contained in a book of collected essays ed by Harold Bloom, entitled "Bloom Notes on Poets: Edgar Allan Poe", or similar.

If you are interested, please contact me and I shall provide fuller details (you may wish to see my thoughts on the subject, as I wrote briefly about this poem in correlation to a larger thematic concern regarding Romantic Poetry, though Poe is not solely a Romantic Poet, strictly speaking.

Please forgive the general tone of this reply, as I am actually working from memory, rather than from textual analysis, and consequently suppose that some of this will seem vague.

-- Anonymous, October 13, 2000

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