Dec 1, 2009

For Poe, This Has Been the Year to Die For

(NYTimes) ... Disenchantment is Poe’s intellectual theme as well. He scorns the Transcendentalists and other American writers with their visions of transformation and possibility. He rejects ideas of moral uplift. The New World holds no promise. But the Old World, in which so many of his stories are steeped — the realm of old families, cultivated tastes and long traditions — is also corrupt and rotten.
Poe seemed to enshrine reason as the only plausible authority, creating in his famous detective stories an archetypal model later used by Arthur Conan Doyle. Poe’s hyper-rational detective Dupin is a master of reason. But he uses it to lay bare the brutish, disruptive forces lying underneath its polished surface, just as he deduced the existence of the rampaging orangutan on the Rue Morgue. Poe’s madmen are singularly rational. His reasonable men are singularly mad. Reason is not to be fully trusted. Continued

Photo: Library of Congress