By Michael J. S. Williams
"A international of phrases" deals a brand new examine the measure to which language itself is a subject of Poe's texts. Stressing the methods his fiction displays at the nature of its personal signifying practices, Williams sheds new gentle on such matters as Poe's characterization of the connection among writer and reader as a fight for authority, on his wisdom of the displacement of an "authorial writing self"; by means of a "self because it is written"; and on his debunking of the redemptive houses of the romantic image.
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Extra info for A World of Words: Language and Displacement in the Fiction of Edgar Allan Poe
Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold" (TS 792) -implies that it is the eye in itself that terrifies.
Of a presence singularly command- The Personage in Question 23 ing. There was an air distingue [Poe's italics] pervading the whole man" (TS 378; emphasis mine). The narrator assumes that the unity of effect is motivated by a unity of essence; of course, he discovers instead that it is a product of the careful combination of elements which have already been "admirably modelled" (TS 379). In fact, the General is more artifact than man (a nomination that, as we shall see, itself causes problems for the narrator), and can be regarded as a parodic figure for the work of the poet-"combinations .
It is an empty signifier, representing the absence implicit in all representation and subject, like Eureka itself, to interpretation and reinterpretation. In this light we can make additional sense out of G. R. Thompson's statement that Eureka is "an elaborate art structure, which, like the Universe it describes, refers ultimately to nothing outside itself but the Nothing outside itself. " Question : Self and Language The "selves" that inhabit Poe's tales are fundamentally equivocal. His tales place in question the primary assumption of a unified self that lay behind Common-Sense philosophy, which, as Terence Martin has shown, permeated American intellectual discussion in the early nineteenth century;' Alarmed by the threat of solipsism that they perceived to be inherent in the metaphysical skepticism of Berkeley and, more particularly, Hume, and by the collapse of religious and moral values which they believed would be its consequence, Scottish Common-Sense philosophers attempted to provide a ground for the self's existence and its ability to achieve objective knowledge of the world.
A World of Words: Language and Displacement in the Fiction of Edgar Allan Poe by Michael J. S. Williams