supernatural element in poe : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

Mr Murphy ever said Poe's stories were all about subjectivity of perception (or somewhere along the line), so we cannot exactly say it has any supernatural elements in it.

Yet if you really consider the stories such as Ligeia or morella, how can one explain for Ligeia's 're-incarnation', or Morella's missing which coincides with Morella no. 2's uncanny likeness without refering to some preternatural forces? In the House of Usher too,isn't the collapse of the building just too timely?

-- Anonymous, October 10, 2002


It's me. I never said(or shouldn't have) that Poe NEVER used the supernatural, just that it comes as a surpirse to many just how little he resorted to it. Sometimes(if he was a modern psychological writer, coming close in "William Wilson") there might be other explanations for the perceptions of the narrator. "Tale of the Ragged Mountains" seems to have a subtext like that but it's as if Poe doesn't see that as important to share with the reader. When the supernatural appears it cannot last without dissipating or being explained so it usually comes as the final shock. "Metzengerstein" is more overtly a ghost story throughout. A madman or obsessive narrator who descends into the shock is in no mind to overcome the mystery or keep from self delusion, and Poe sometimes lets them go all the way. But in tales where the rational man triumphs all the macabre shocks have a basic explanation. That is the tendency of course in the dual nature of the Poe mind. If he was less a Romantic and more of a Twentieth Century writer(naturalist, symbolist whatver) one can see how the stories might be engineered for profound ambiguity. Poe is often sneered at instead for concentrating on the popular pulp nature of the story's shocking effect.

The straight story if it were just pulp would not lean into these extraordinary implosions of personality, split natures, nature and the supernatural. If Poe were less a progressive American with faith in reason and science he might not have ever invented the detective story which is more originally his creation than the Gothic tales. If he were not living in the precursor age of psychology and modernism he could have immersed himself more heartily in the supernatural explanations of the fantastic, the poetic exploration of soul.

I like to call the Romantic Period the sweet springtime of experimental despair, the innocence of pioneering new limits and losses before it necessarily becomes the dull and jaded crash of totally disilusioned modernism.

Wow. That's profound.

-- Anonymous, October 10, 2002

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