Indefinite Pleasures and Parables of Art: An Investigation of the Aesthetics of Edgar Allan Poe
Thomson, Jennifer J.
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AbstractThis investigation examines the origins and development of Edgar Allan Poe’s aesthetic theory throughout his body of work. It employs a tripartite approach commencing with the consideration of relevant biographical context, then proceeds with a detailed analysis of a selection of Poe’s writing on composition and craft: “Letter to B—,” “Hawthorne’s Twice-Told Tales,” “The Philosophy of Composition,” “The Poetic Principle,” and “The Philosophy of Furniture.” Finally, it applies this information to the analysis of selected works of Poe’s short fiction: “The Assignation,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Oval Portrait,” “The Domain of Arnheim,” and “Landor’s Cottage.” The examination concludes that Poe’s philosophy of art and his metaphysics are linked; therefore, his aesthetic system bears more analytical weight in the study of his fiction than was previously allowed. By providing a holistic account of Poe’s theories of art and their metaphysical basis, new avenues of interpretation become available and a new theme emerges: the selected become parables about the nature of art.
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