Edgar Allan Poe The Philosophy Of Composition Summary

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For most of his two – decade long career as a short story writer and a poet, with his first book of poetry being published in 1827 when he was only eighteen, Edgar Allan Poe struggled to support himself and his family. His greatest success came in 1845 with the publication of his most famous poem, “The Raven.” Its success provided Poe and his family with short-term financial stability thus enabling him to settle down in a respectable neighbourhood in New York. Of equal importance, he finally began to feel he had achieved fame and recognition he deserved. However, while many critics were celebrating his poem, others were attacking it, resulting in the appearance of numerous parodies. In response to the ever-growing criticism, Poe decided to…show more content…
Among the central ideas of his essay, such as Beauty, being the core of the poem, length and method, unity of effect is what makes his work so distinctive, shocking and appealing at the same time. The idea is roughly described as the author’s attempt of making the reader completely immersed in a work of fiction by allowing the reader to start and complete the work in a single setting thus allowing any literary devices, effects, moods and ideas to have the fullest possible effect on him as well as enabling the author to keep complete control over what the reader perceives and experiences. In addition, Poe explains the problem as “I say to myself, in the first place of the innumerable effects, or impressions, of which the heart, the intellect, or (more generally) the soul is susceptible, what one shall I, on the present occasion, select?” (Poe, 2). In providing an interpretation of his poem, Poe in the essay, foregrounds the importance of aesthetics, as well as having a clear purpose of what should literary work be about, which effect it should cause, effect which would “elevate the spirit.”. He furthermore notes that one must not stop there, but should instead wisely choose his tools, or aids as he calls them, which would help him in creating the desired effect. “Having chosen a novel,…show more content…
The shocking effect is produced immediately as Poe leads us straight into the confusing madman’s thoughts by saying: “TRUE! --nervous --very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? […] Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad?” (Poe, 4) We, as the readers, are left in shock, as many would not expect that a story should start without any introduction, or at least not presenting the main character as the dreadfully nervous, hypersensitive man in the opening sentence. Similarly enough, in the other shorty story, namely “The Black Cat”, The first thing we learn is that the nameless narrator is convincing himself he is not mad, just as the narrator from the other story, that he is going to die the next day and as such wants to write an ugly story about the things which happened at home, which tortured and destroyed him. “Yet, mad am I not—and very surely do I not dream. But to-morrow I die, and to-day I would unburden my soul. “ (Poe, 3) Again, we are stricken by the
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