Not all American commentators have agreed with Emerson’s dim view of Poe’s verse. For McGann, a notable exception is William Carlos Williams, who said that the American poetic imagination made its first appearance in Poe’s work. The Poet Edgar Allan Poe explains what Williams and European admirers saw in Poe, how they understood his poetics, and why his poetry had such a decisive influence on Modern and Post-Modern art and writing. McGann contends that Poe was the first poet to demonstrate how the creative imagination could escape its inheritance of Romantic attitudes and conventions, and why an escape was desirable. The ethical and political significance of Poe’s work follows from what the poet takes as his great subject: the reader.
The Poet Edgar Allan Poe takes its own readers on a spirited tour through a wide range of Poe’s verse as well as the critical and theoretical writings in which he laid out his arresting ideas about poetry and poetics.
A different take on the man himself, Edgar Allan Poe. In, 'The Poet Edgar Allan Poe: Alien Angel' Jerome J. McGann does not critique or analyze any of Poe's known tales and very few of his poems. There may be brief mentions of Ulalume and Annabel Lee but the main focus lies in Poe's own writings and words taken from his Marginalia 1844 as well as The Philosophy of Composition. These two writings are quoted, analyzed and compared to other works by 19th century greats Tennyson, Keats, Shelley, Longfellow and the like.
If you are looking for a breakdown analysis of Poe's Tales, this is not for you. They are not mentioned here. Instead, it is a talk on themes of Beauty, Romance, Muses, and the use of plot in poetry in Poe's own words. If you want to know what Edgar Allan Poe thought on these topics then it is gripping and fascinating. I enjoyed this aspect of McGann's admiration for the man himself.
I hope readers will enjoy it as much as I have. It was as if you attended a lecture during the nineteenth century by Mr. Poe himself! Now, who wouldn't go to that?
Thank you to Harvard University Press for an early review copy in exchange for my honest review.
The expected U.S. publication date is October 13, 2004 in Hardcover as well as Ebook.
For publishing information, Harvard University Press
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