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Chapter 7 Edgar Allen Poe


Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)
艾德加· 爱伦· 坡
19th century writer of fiction, editor, poet, literature critic, most misunderstood writer.

Works: ? Tales of the Grotesque and Ara

besque《怪诞奇异故事集 》 (collection of short stories) ? The Raven 《乌鸦 》 (collection of poems)
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The Fall of the House of Usher 厄舍古屋的倒塌

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His short stories fall into two categories: those of mystery and horror (怪诞和恐怖) those of ratiocination(推理)

Poe’s Life
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Born in Boston in 1809 as the second child of 2 traveling actors; At the age of 2 orphaned and taken care of by John Allan, a childless and wealthy merchant; Was happy with his foster father for a short period; At 17 entered the University of Virginia but did not finish because of his heavy debts from gambling and drinking; In 1827, after a bitter quarrel with the Allans ran away to Boston, where he published his first book of poetry Tamerlane and other poems; In 1829, published his second book of poetry, to be followed by his third in 1831; In 1836, married his 13-year-old cousin Virginia, whose death in 1847 left him inconsolable and bitter with life than ever; In 1838, published his one full-length novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym; In October, 1849, died in mysterious circumstances.

Others’ Comment on Poe
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Rufus Griswold painted him as a Bohemian, depraved and demonic, a villain with no virtue at all. Emerson described him in three words: “the jingle man”. Mark Twain declared his prose unreadable. Henry James stated ruthlessly that “an enthusiasm for Poe is the mark of decidedly primitive state of development”. Whitman had mixed feelings about him: admitting Poe’s genius, but thinking it was “its narrow range and unhealthy, lurid quality” that most impressed him. T. S. Eliot proclaimed him a critic of the first rank, but charged him with “slipshod writing”. Yvor Winters regarded Poe’s literary merit as “a very frail delusion”.

Others’ Comment on Poe
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For a long time American literary merit as “a very frail delusion”. Ironically, in Europe Poe enjoyed respect and welcome. Swinburne, Bernard Shaw, D. H. Lawrence and W. H. Auden all admired and spoke highly of him. Shaw said Poe was on the centenary of his birth, “the greatest journalistic critic of his time; his poetry is “exquisitely refined”; and his tales are “complete works of art”. In Germany, writers such as R. M. Rilke indebted him. In Russia, the works of Dostoevsky bear a visible imprint of Poe’s influence. In France, Charles Baudelaire determined that “Edgar Poe … must become a great man in France” and spent the beat of his mature time life translating Poe, elevating Poe to the status of literary deity.

Short Stories of Mystery and Horror
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“The Fall of the House Usher” 《厄舍古屋的倒 塌》 “Ligeia” 《莱琪尔》 “The Tell-Tale Heart” 《泄密的心》 “The Cask of Amontillado”《一桶白葡萄酒》

Short Stories of ratiocination
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“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” 《毛格街血 案》 “The Purloined Letter” 《失窃的信》 “The Mystery of Maria Roger”《 玛丽· 罗热疑 案》

Poetical works: “The Raven” 《乌鸦》 (1844) ? “Israfel” 《伊斯拉斐尔》(1844) ? “To Helen” 《致海伦》(1831) ? “Annabel Lee” 《安娜贝尔· 李》(1849) ? “The City in the Sea”《海城》(1831) ? “The Bells” 《钟声》(1844)
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Poetic Theories
Poe’s poetic theories are best illustrated in…
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“The Philosophy of Composition” 《创作哲学 》 “The Poetic Principle”《诗歌原理》

Poetic Theories
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Poem should be short readable at one setting. Its chief aim is beauty, namely, to produce a feeling of beauty in the reader. Poe is opposed to “the heresy of the didactic” and calls for “pure” poetry. He stressed rhythm, defines true poetry as “the rhythmical creation of beauty”, he declares that “music is the perfection of the soul, or idea, of poetry”. In addition, Poe insisted on an even metrical flow in versification.

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爱伦· 坡的诗中大多是古怪、奇特、病态的形象(歌特风格)。他强调 写忧郁的情绪,著名的《乌鸦》一诗就是这方面的代表作。 爱伦· 坡的短篇小说也颇有影响。他大约写了70篇短篇小说,收在《述 异集》(1840)中。他的小说大致可分为恐怖小说和推理小说。前者包 括《厄舍古厦的倒塌》、《红色死亡假面舞》、《莉盖亚》、《黑 猫》、《阿芒提拉多的酒桶》等;后者如《莫格街谋杀案》、《被窃 的信件》、《马里· 罗盖特的秘密》、《你是那人》、《金甲虫》等。 爱伦· 坡在西方还被认为是侦探小说的鼻祖,他的上述这类小说对西方 侦探小说的发展有一定影响。 Father of the detective story 爱伦· 坡的文学批评论著有《创作哲学》(1846)、《诗歌原理》(1850) 等。

Words for the effect of melancholy and terror “The Fall of the House of Usher”

Midnight, cloud, darkness, chilling, killing, startle, demon (ghost), blood, grave, insufferable gloom, desolate, terrible, bleak walls, vacant eye-like winds, decayed trees, depression of soul

Poe insists that the final goal of literature is the entire union of aesthetic in both theory and practice. He fought against the preach function and the value of reality. Poe’s horror fiction exposes human psyche with the unique imagination and sharp observation. The famous Black Cat is a concentrated reflection of his writing principle.
爱伦坡在理论和实践上均坚持文学的最终目的是追 求美的整体效果.反对文学的说教功能和现实价值。 他的恐怖小说以独特的想象和深刻的洞察深入到人 类心理隐秘的角落,名作《黑猫》是坡创作原则的 集中体现。

His ideas of Short Story

Brevity(简短) ? The short story should be of such length as to be read at one sitting, so as to ensure the totality of impression. ? 为取得完整的效果 , 故事篇幅以读者 能一口气读完为宜。

Single effect(单一的效果) ? The very first sentence ought to bring out the “single-effect” of the story. ? 下笔要开门见山, 围绕故事达到单一的 效果。

Compression (浓缩) ? No word should be used which does not contribute to the “pre-established design” of the work. ? 字字句句要丝丝入扣, 删去多余的描述。

Finality (结局感) ? The last sentence leaves a sense of finality with the reader. ? 小说最后一句要给读者一种 “结局感” 。

General characteristics of his short stories
Characters: most abnormal, alienate (疏 远)from society. The unconscious and subconscious activity was described. It seems every mind is half mad, capable of slipping into insanity, according to Poe.

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Horrible atmosphere. Death is a theme of his short story. Melancholy ( 忧郁 ) is the tone of his short story.

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Love is the theme of his poetry.

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In theme Poe anticipates 20th literature in his treatment of the disintegration of the self in a world of T. S. Eloit’s “nothingness” and Hemingway’s “nada”. He was immensely interested in deduction and induction.

Poe’s style
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Traditional Much too rational, too ordinary to reflect the peculiarity of his theme Not easy to read

Poe’s position
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His influence is world-wide in modern literature. His aesthetics and conscious craftsmanship, his attack on “the heresy of the didactic”, and his call for “the rhythmical creation of beauty” have influenced French symbolists and the devotees of “art for art’s sake”. Poe is the father of psychoanalytic criticism and the father of detective story.

The Raven
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Line 1: Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, A Line 2: Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore – B Line 3: While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, C Line 4: As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door – B Line 5:"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door – B Line 6: Only this and nothing more." B

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Let's start with the rhyming words (we put them in bold to make them easier to see). The first and third lines have a rhyming word at the middle and at the end of the line (as in "dreary" and "weary"). This is called internal rhyme. In the fourth line, the rhyme from the third line shows up in the middle of the sentence (see that "rapping" up there?)

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The most noticeable rhyme in the poem comes at the end of the second, fourth, fifth, and sixth lines in each stanza. It's easy to pick out, because it's always an "or" sound (e.g. lore, door, more, floor, Lenore, and of course, Nevermore). That means that two thirds of the lines in this poem end with the same sound! In Englishprofessor jargon, this rhyme scheme would be called ABCBBB, with each letter standing for the sound that ends a line. (We put that up there too to make it easier to see.)

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As far as the meter goes, we can start by counting out the number of syllables. The first and third lines have sixteen syllables each. That makes eight pairs of syllables. The emphasis in these pairs is usually placed on the first syllable: (Once u/pon a /midnight/ dreary). This kind of syllable pair is called a trochee. Since there are eight syllable pairs in a line, we call it "octameter" (octo- standing for eight, as in octopus). So the meter is called trochaic octameter.

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One thing about having a regular meter, though, is that poets can't resist playing with it. You probably noticed that the last line of each stanza is a lot shorter, with only seven syllables. Plus, if you look really closely, you can see that the second, fourth, and fifth lines only have fifteen syllables. The trick is that in each of the lines ending in an "or" sound, Poe leaves off a syllable. That way the crucial "or" sits out there by itself, unattached to another syllable, making it stand out even more.

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If you look, you can probably figure out a few of Poe's other little gimmicks. The point of all this is that he's trying to make his poem as musical, hypnotic, and captivating as possible. All of this complicated rhyme and rhythm aims at drawing you more completely into the world of the poem.

Homework
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Comment on characteristics of Poe’s short stories.


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