motives of travelling in poe's worksgreenspun.com : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread
Hi, I'm a student from Germany and I have to write a homework about the motives of travelling in the works of E.A.Poe. Can anybody tell me where I can get some information about this subject? It seems to be a very special theme because I could hardly find any infotmation in our library.
-- Anonymous, January 25, 2005
I am not surprised. I am hoping the theme of travelling translates into journey, a universal story structure. The obvious stories and interests of Poe deal with the simple theme. Exploration inspired by Lewis and Clark and the Polar expeditions, the new inventions of the hot air balloon, the science/aesthetics philosophy of "Eureka". The progress, the new, the exapnsive attracted all the Romantics to regions that bordered the imagination and the realms of the impossible.
But Poe has a special kind of journey in many of his works. An oppressive imposion of the self downward into the gulf, swallowed by huge natural forces. It is a psychological journey, not so much of discovery and finding of the self, but of absorption and dissolution. "Eureka" gives him personal hope this cosmic process will absorb him into the whole and then back out again, in a peculiarly Poe linkage to an aspect of Hindu Transcendentalism(though not to be confused with such). Surviving in this life means going to the brink, surviving and coming back("The Pit and the Pendulum" "Descent into the Maelstrom" "The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym"). The emphasis is existential< the emotion of the descent, the horror, the fascination, the going down, whether the protagonist lives or dies.
"Ligeia" is interesting in that the beloved crosses over but wills to live again with the obsession of the lover who resets the stage in a new land with a new life ceremonially structured for a sacrifice/transference.
As you can see the key can be applied to any Poe work as a variation on his personal expression of the theme. It is personal in Poe's fruitless search for stability and happiness, losing his itinerant actor parents, his sea voyaging brother, his many homes since them. He was even tempted to go out West for the Gold Rush of 1849, but that was much too late in life and his personal quest was completely literary. Possibly the best poem sumnming up the Poe journey is "El Dorado". Curiously he meets a pilgrim Shadow, presumably returning from the destination.
This is a very worthwhile subject and relatively unexplored bearing Poe's special personal experience and aesthetical stamp.
-- Anonymous, January 27, 2005