The Sphinx, MS Found In a Bottle, and The Man That Was Used Up : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

Has anyone done research on these stories? I need info, and fast! I need comparisons, summaries, and how they effected his life. Anything! Thanks soooooooo much!

-- Anonymous, November 11, 2001


Wow. What sadist is coming up with these unlikely combos? Starting with the early story the prize winning Ms in a Bottle we have the romantic, sensitive Poe narrator-hero who finds his dark dreams all too realized in a real shipwreck, then doom aboard a rescuing ghost ship headed for the hole at the Pole where the oceans rush in to the center of the earth on their way to the other Pole. The Sphinx has a similar narrator hero of similar imagination this time tricked by his fancy into misinterpreting a simple insect observed from a odd perspective. A Dupin like mystic, more helps him through this embarassment.

From reality to ghostly horror(rare in Poe actually)then to humorous relief and correction of romantic fantasy.

Then we have the man who was all used up, an interview with a man from the Indian wars. The no-nonsense reporter is drawn into reality of the veteran's harrowing tale which is accompanied by the removal of various replacement parts for what wounds took away- until the man disappears completely! This grim, total humor is a reverse, almost Twain-like satire where the horror is caricaturish.

Perhaps the stories are based on perceptions, distrusful misjudgments or ignorance of what one is actually seeing. The variety here gives you a more honest idea of the range of Poe's poetic and rational interests, lest the reader take him too seriously and that reason triumph over emotional schock and horror. Or maybe the teacher is trying to drive you mad?

-- Anonymous, November 12, 2001

Just a few words about "THE SPHINX". A point, I think, often overlooked, concerning this tale, is that the commonest treatment (preventive and/or curative) of the cholera, at that epoch, was the Laudanum, a tincture of opium. And one of the chief side-effects of this current medicine was precisely the kind of optical illusion as here staged by Poe. Coleridge, in one of his copious notebooks (for 1803, but not available in Poe's time), has reported, almost clinically, a similar visual confusion of the flight of two birds with a pair of far nearer leaves. Just like what de Quincey so minutely related in the concluding chapter of his "Confessions of an English Opium Eater" -- a capital source for Poe. One may assume that the author of the "Sphinx" was well aware of this peculiar effect of opioïds. For example, in "BERENICE", (early versions!) Egaeus, addicted to those toxics, has his mind filled with the obsessive image of the teeth -- here, too, a quasi clinical description(*). But we must surely not infer, from Poe's knowledge of the phenomenon, that he was himself an opiate-user, as sometimes unfairly asserted. He certainly found abundant informations in his vast (literary and scientific) readings, and introduced them in order to obtain maximal verisimilitude. Nevertheless, laudanum might have been prescribed to him for some physical (gastro-intestinal) disorder, and he could thus have been himself the victim of such a disturbing side-effect. Laudanum, at that time, was as banal a remedy as loperamide today. In any case, the link between this visual aberration and the cholera's epidemy seems to have been Poe's essential and deliberate choice, proving thus, one more time, his constant alertness for the least detail concurring to the perfect consistency in any of his compositions. And here again, the genius of Poe resides in not having provided any definite explanation of what could otherwise be taken for highly improbable. -- (*)In "Berenice", Poe eventually suppressed the specific sentence about Egaeus' s use of opium -- giving thus a far more effective psychiatric status to his narrator, a decidedly more powerfull one than the rather dull case of mere opiomany. So, Poe gradually chose to become a keen analyst of various mental impairments (a psycho-analyst? - surely an acuter one than most of the post-Freudian tribes from any clime), rather than an unimaginative follower of the Gothic/Blackwood tradition. Yours sincerely, Raven's Shade (Belgium).

-- Anonymous, December 02, 2001

Flying scarab or porous Sybil??

Blah, blah, blah

What is the link between the bishoplike Sphinx and the Man who Was? Oedi-poe’s; no less, no more.

Blabber from riddle-land

originally established in Trebuchet MS

-- Anonymous, December 10, 2001

u guys are so pathetic u need to geta life


-- Anonymous, September 28, 2004

Moderation questions? read the FAQ