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I am writing a comparison analysis on Emerson and Poe. I need Poe's views on Transcendentalism ASAP if anyone can. Thank you!

-- Anonymous, March 20, 2002


Perhaps where they both start from as deists, Americans, poets though Emerson was a minister and more concerned with philosphy and theology. Poe was totally into literary theory with ennthusiasms for science and progress. However, Poe's most important visionary book, Eureka,is more like Yeats "A Vision" in that it a uniquely personal vision and cosmology. The influences are the scientists and thinkers he mentions in the book with no relation to Hinduism or the New England school of thought that was to develop. As usual, Poe professed to find some resolution and comfort in this book, but that attempt to find meaning failed in the end to satisfy. Also, it didn't sell whereas the Transcendentalists had more universal appeal. I think concentrate on the difference and how people of the same age and place develop dieas in parallel lines and how some need or discovery was driving their particular work. Unfortunately I don't remember Poe reactin to the movement itself except for lieterary attacks against Longfellow which earned him Emerson's emnity. Emerson was a preacher and saw all things passing away except his noble words. Poe saw his whole universe and self swallowed up and then reborn, actually little honestly closer to Hindu pantheism- which it was not.

Didacticism was so alien to Poe that he even wanted Eureka to be considered as a prose poem rather than a treatise. I doubt Emerson ever felt Poe's passions and anxieties or lack of peace. Although The Dial and the circle of "FrogPondians" had been around in 1842, Poe seems to have encouraged alienation to grow between them and himself.

-- Anonymous, March 21, 2002

A vast question, indeed, and Mr Murphy gave you a solid digest in order to start your research. Here is a modest addendum. Every time we have to comment on Poe and Transcendentalism, we should always begin with such following quotations. ((1)) "... You are mistaken about 'The Dial'. I have no quarrel in the world with that illustrious journal, nor it with me.(...) My slaps at it were only in a 'general way'. The tale in question (N e v e r B e t t h e D e v i l y o u r H e a d) is a mere Extravaganza levelled at no one in particular, but hitting right & left at things in general..." -- (Poe's letter to Snodgrass - Sep. 19, 1841). ((2)) "... You mistake me in supposing I dislike the transcendentalists -- it is only the pretenders and sophists among them..." -- (Poe's letter to Chivers - July 10, 1844). ((3)) "...the cant of the transcendentalists (or those who degrade an ennobling philosophy by styling themselves such)..." -- (Poe's review of Barrett's "Drama of Exile...", in the Broadway Journal for Jan. 4, 1845). ((4)) "...the (NY) Tribune whose transcendental editors or their doctrines, I attacked. My objection to the burlesque philosophy, which the Bostonians have adopted, supposing it to be Transcendentalism,..." -- (Poe's letter to Hunt, Jr. - March 17, 1845). ((5)) "When I consider the true talent - the real force of Emerson..." -- (Poe's "Marginalia" - Graham's Magazine, Nov., 1846). We must ever keep in mind that Poe was unfailingly at war with the quacks and coteries, the "rant and cant" (the manner, not the matter) of pseudo-literary and pseudo-philosophical animalculae who got influence to the detriment of true artists and geniuses. A step further would show how many ideas and views Poe and the Transcendentalists had in common. A quite urgent job, I assume! Perhaps your own one? In any case, we may indicate here a major and radical difference between those later and the former about Poesy. For Emerson, Poesy implies Inspiration, some inner Revelation and the like, while, with Poe, Poesy invariably requires conscious and patient toiling and composition. No more for the moment. Yours sincerely, Raven's Shade (Belgium).

-- Anonymous, April 24, 2002

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