Text: Maurice J. Bennett, “Visionary Wings: Art and Metaphysics in Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Hans Pfaall’,” Poe and His Times: The Artist and His Milieu, Baltimore: The Edgar Allan Poe Society, 1990, pp. 76-86 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 76, unnumbered:]



“The Unparalleled Adventures of One Hans Pfaall,” Poe’s fictional account of a voyage to the moon, has been frequently discussed as a pioneering exercise in science fiction. The comedy with which the tale begins and ends, however, has led some to deny it as a “pure” example of the genre or to acknowledge it only as a crude and imperfect example.(1) George Bernard Shaw and William Carlos Williams suggest other evaluative categories when they respectively note that Poe’s work always has the universe for background and characteristically turns away from its ostensible subject to reveal the “business” of writing.(2) In these terms, the science and technology that clutter the tale for many readers; the heavy-handed satire of the burghers of Rotterdam; and the fantasy of the moon voyage itself may be profitably considered under the aspect of Poe’s overt and extensive interest in metaphysics and in the nature of art. As Joseph Moldenhauer observes, Poe’s “critical essays point to the fundamental themes and techniques of his creative productions,” although “the recurrent terms of Poe’s aesthetic themselves comprise a symbolic structure, grounded in the same attitudes as the symbols, motifs, and patterns of characterization in his poetry and tales.”(3) Read in the context of his total oeuvre, “Hans Pfaall” is of interest here as neither hoax nor science fiction nor a curiously unsuccessful hybrid of the two, but as a fictionalization of Poe’s serious aesthetic and metaphysical preoccupations.

There is general consensus among students of Poe that his characteristic subject may be described as the “dissolution of personality,” a “flight from corporeality,” or “the disembodiment of man.”(4) Its most notable narrative expression is his thematic preoccupation with death. The reader must always remind himself, however, that death and psychic disintegration in Poe are necessary stages in his private eschatology; they are the portals to states of consciousness of which mortal existence can offer only brief intimations. On certain prophetic occasions, the soul abandons the body and “separates itself from its own idiosyncrasy, or individuality, and considers its own being, not as appertaining solely to itself, but as a portion of the universal Ens.” Death, though, is the final, “painful metamorphosis” whereby man escapes the distortions of the “sense of self which debases, and which keeps us debased” and assumes the generalized, divine perspective of the cosmos (H14: 186).(5) The final note to Eureka extends what is, in many respects, a traditionally [page 77:] Christian consolation for the inevitable suffering inherent in the process: “The pain of the consideration that we shall lose our individual identity, ceases at once when we further reflect that the process . . . is neither more nor less than that of the absorption of each individual intelligence, of all other intelligences (that is, of the universe) into its own. That God may be in all, each must become God” (H16:336).

Poe’s tales are thus often informed by a covert agenda — the quest for transcendence — covert because frequently denied direct narrative representation. Harold Bloom offers a convenient and lucid paradigm for understanding this typically Romantic project, which he describes as involving two basic stages. In the “Promethean” stage, the questing consciousness rejects conventional modes of being, which necessarily involves the destruction of the purely social self and the rejection of ties with ordinary human community. The ultimate goal, however, is the “Real Man” or “Imagination” stages, where the artist attains an imaginative freedom that establishes a fundamental harmony between the universe and consciousness — an ultimate healing of the apparent breech between subject and object that instigates the most familiar forms of Romantic disquietude.(6)

Both the basic project of transcendence and Bloom’s description of its essential aspects are directly relevant to “Hans Pfaall.” Despite the endnote’s misleading emphasis on a putative verisimilitude based on scientific and technological plausibility, the epigraph suggests a different set of concerns: “With a heart of furious fancies, / Whereof I am Commander, / with a burning spear and a horse of air, / To the wilderness I wander,” (H2: 42). This song, attributed to Tom O’Bedlam, immediately introduces the world of madness, which in Poe is often a metaphor for the hypertrophy of imagination (H4: 236; 16: 165-166). And the “heart of furious fancies” invoked here bears a generic relation to the “hearts of maddening fervor” that Poe elsewhere attributed to lovers of the beautiful (H11: 255). Thus, however indirectly, the reader is immediately introduced to the realm of Poe’s aesthetic metaphysics.

The story itself opens with the rejection of conventional values and habits that comprises the fundamental gesture of Romantic literature and that Bloom identifies as the initial stage of the Romantic Quest. The appearance of the messenger balloon carrying Hans’s manuscript is described as “an egregious insult to the good sense of the burghers of Rotterdam” (H2: 44), and the detailed description of the Dutch crowd’s foolishly inadequate reaction to so exotic an event parodies the merely logical, “utilitarian” habit of mind that Poe would definitively discredit in the Prefect G —— of the Dupin stories. The arrival of Hans’s tale thus constitutes the advent of a new reality that supercedes traditional [page 78:] epistemologies and customary modes of being. The reporter who establishes the mise en scène for Hans’s narrative notes its revolutionary effect in recording “phenomena . . . of a nature so completely unexpected — so entirely novel — so utterly at variance with preconceived opinions — as to leave no doubt on my mind that long ere this all Europe is in an uproar, all physics in a ferment, all reason and astronomy together by the ears” (H2: 42).

In his narrative proper, after identifying himself to the Rotterdam authorities, Hans explains his motivations for escaping to the moon. In so doing, he presents one of Poe’s frequent attacks on the materialism and democratic tendencies of contemporary American culture. He finds his traditionally lucrative trade of bellows mender destroyed when his neighbors’ heads are “set agog by politics,” and he explains:

. . . we soon began to feel the effects of liberty, and long speeches, and radicalism, and all that sort of thing. People who were formerly the very best customers in the world, had now not a moment of time to think of us at all. They had as much as they could do to read about the revolutions, and keep up with the march of intellect and the spirit of the age. If a fire wanted fanning, it could readily be fanned with a newspaper; and as the government grew weaker, I have no doubt that leather and iron acquired durability in proportion. (H2:48)

The result of these social changes is Hans’s business failure; and the accumulation of social and financial pressures attending the support of his family leads him to consider suicide.

Here, in essence, is the progressive and spiritually debilitating encroachment of material and social concerns that harassed the Romantic sensibility. The German Heine uttered a characteristic lament when he claimed that “the gloomy workaday mood of the modern Puritans spreads itself over all Europe like a gray twilight,” and at the beginning of the nineteenth century the opening quatrain of a familiar Wordsworth sonnet complained: “The world is too much with us; late and soon, / Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: / Little we see in Nature that is ours; / We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon.”(7) Poe expresses similar attitudes in “The Colloquy of Monos and Una,” where the growth of “huge smoking cities” deformed the landscape and symbolized general developments that separated man from “Beauty,” “Nature,” “Life” (H4: 203-204). The disembodied spirit Monos, “Wearied at heart with anxieties which had their origin in the general turmoil and decay” (H4; 206), actually died in order to be “born [page 79:] again” into a transcendent reality from which he can view both past and future from the perspective of the “universal Ens.” Monos’s description of an unequivocal metaphysical translation offers an illuminating context for Hans’s own adventure, which, in removing him to the moon, provides him at least with a metaphorical death to those “anxieties” and that “general turmoil” summarized at the beginning of his tale.

That Hans’s personal dilemma should be read in terms of the Romantic artist’s general displeasure with an emergent social and political order in which he felt oppressed and marginalized is suggested by Poe’s review of Henry F. Chorley’s Conti the Discarded, published in the Southern Literary Messenger just seven months after the original appearance of “Hans Pfaall” in the same journal (June, 1835). “When shall the artist assume his proper situation in society — in a society of thinking beings?” he asked: “How long shall he be enslaved? how long shall mind succumb to the grossest materiality? How long shall the veriest vermin of the Earth, who crawl around the altar of Mammon, be more esteemed than they, the gifted ministers of those exalted emotions which link us up with the mysteries of Heaven?” (H8: 230). Poe’s optimistic reply to his own queries was that change is imminent, and in “Mellonta Tauta” (1849) he imagined a futuristic world where “Investigation has been taken out of the hands of the ground-moles and given, as a task, to the only true thinkers, the men of ardent imagination” (H6: 206). Hans, however, refuses to wait for the advent of this utopia and decides to remove himself from intolerable conditions. He immediately identifies the metaphysical nature of his projected moon voyage as he confesses: “It was not, however, that to life itself I had any positive disgust, but that I was harassed beyond endurance by the adventitious miseries attending my situation . . . . I determined to depart, yet live — to leave the world, yet continue to exist — in short, to drop enigmas, I resolved, let what would ensue, to force a passage, if I could, to the moon” (H2: 60-61).

It is the practical result of this decision — Hans’s voyage into space — that encourages the inclusion of Poe’s work in the genealogy of science fiction. But on the simplest narrative level, the moon toward which Hans travels, as distinct from the satirical world in which he lands,(8) is not merely the planetary body that circles the Earth, but an extension of his imagination. Once aloft, he projects onto it a conventionally Romantic landscape:

Fancy revelled in the wild and dreamy regions of the moon. Imagination, feeling herself for once unshackled, roamed at will among the ever-changing wonders of a shadowy and unstable land. Now there were hoary and time-honored [page 80:] forests, craggy precipices, and waterfalls tumbling with a loud noise into abysses without a bottom. Then I came suddenly into still noonday solitudes, where no wind of heaven ever intruded, and where vast meadows of poppies, and slender, lily-looking flowers spread themselves out a weary distance, all silent and motionless forever. . . . But fancies such as these were not the sole possessors of my brain. Horrors of a nature most stern and most appalling would too frequently obtrude themselves upon my mind, and shake the innermost depths of my soul with the bare supposition of their possibility. (H2:80)

In his sketch of Richard Adams Locke, whose “Moon Hoax,” published in the New York Sun just weeks after the first appearance of “Hans Pfaall,” had effectively precluded the projected continuation of his own tale, Poe noted the “fancy-exciting and reason suppressing” character of the lunar subject (H15: 134). And the landscape that Hans imagines is analogous to that which Poe described in the poem “Dream-Land” — like that symbolic topography, this, too, is a “wild weird clime that lieth, sublime, / Out of SPACE — out of TIME” (H7: 89). Hans is thus enroute towards the imaginative consciousness that Bloom identifies as the ultimate goal of the Romantic quest.

Hans’s moon is also the local manifestation of a heavenly body that reappears constantly and with varying significance in Poe’s work, from the early lyric “Al Aaraaf “ to the culminating prose poem Eureka. The title of the early work derives from a star discovered by Tycho Brahe in 1572, which appeared suddenly, attained an unusual brilliance, and then suddenly disappeared. In the poem, this star is the domain of Nesace, the goddess of Beauty, and it functions primarily as a symbol of a divinely aesthetic existence that is inaccessible to mortals, on whom it bursts as a momentary epiphany. In Eureka, the star becomes the original cosmos itself — the unitary, undifferentiated particle that Poe identified as God in His divine quiescence before the creative dispersal that constituted the universe. This immense, effulgent, inconceivable particle represents the ultimate development of Poe’s star imagery.

Between “Al Aaraaf’ and Eureka, the astral symbol recedes from narrative prominence and is embedded in Poe’s critical discourse as part of an explanatory trope. As such, it is a recurrent figure in his descriptions of imaginative vision. In the preface to Poems (1831), for instance, Poe used it to distinguish between poetic and utilitarian perception as he criticized Coleridge’s fundamental procedures in his Biographia Literaria: “He goes wrong by reason of his very profundity, and of his error we have a natural type in the contemplation of a star. He who regards it directly and intensely sees, it is true, the star, but it [page 81:] is the star without a ray — while he who surveys it less inquisitively is conscious of all for which the star is useful to us below — its brilliancy and its beauty” (H8: xxxiv). Dupin uses nearly identical language in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” to distinguish between his methods and the inferior investigative techniques of the Parisian police, asserting that “To look at a star by glances — to view it in a side-long way . . . is to behold the star distinctly — is to have the best appreciation of its lustre — a lustre which grows dim just in proportion as we turn our vision fully upon it” (H4: 166).

On other occasions, the star represents the unattainable beauty toward which the human soul aspires. In his definitive aesthetic statement, “The Poetic Principle,” Poe wrote that the desire for Beauty is the hallmark of man’s immortality; significantly, “It is the desire of the moth for the star” (H14: 273). He defined the poetic principle as “the human Aspiration for Supernal Beauty,” and in seeking for an adequate image to figure the essence of poetry, he differentiated the “elevating excitement of the Soul” from mere passion, metaphysical ecstasy from a mere delirium of the senses. He concluded: “Love, on the contrary — Love — the true, the divine Eros — the Uranian, as distinguished from the Dionaean Venus — is unquestionably the purest and truest of all poetical themes” (H14: 290). Uranian Venus is, of course, the evening star; the metaphysical desire it elicits is Poe’s definitive conception of poetic vision and transcendental aspiration.

“The Power of Words” (1845), another of Poe’s metaphysical fantasies, offers an important exception to the general scheme just outlined. In this brief sketch, the poem as artifact and the image of the star are brought into metaphorical juxtaposition. Two angelic spirits, Oinos and Agathos, casually winging among the galaxies, suddenly espy “the greenest and most terrible star,” of which Oinos observes, “Its brilliant flowers look like a fairy dream — but its fierce volcanoes like the passions of a turbulent heart” (H6: 143). Suddenly weeping, Agathos responds with a confession: “This wild star — it is now three centuries since with clasped hands, and with streaming eyes, at the feet of my beloved — I spoke it with a few passionate sentences — into birth. Its brilliant flowers are the dearest of all unfulfilled dreams, and its raging volcanoes are the passions of the most turbulent and unhallowed of hearts” (H6: 143-144). This stellar landscape is similar to that which Hans imagines as existing on the moon, which, as he approaches its surface, appears to be in a state of violent eruption. Not only does such a passage provide a key for determining the symbolic value of those poppies and lilies, chasms and cataracts, that comprise Poe’s fictional and poetic landscapes, but it also directly recalls Poe’s expressed belief in “the power of words” to capture and to embody in objective form the “fancies” that arise in the mind during the [page 82:] somnolence between waking and sleeping that he identifies as aesthetic consciousness (H16: 89). Further, it repeats his description of love for the Uranian Venus as the purest of all poetic themes, the result of which, in “The Poetic Principle,” is the poem and here is the symbolically uttered star.

It should thus be evident that Hans’s journey to the moon constitutes the narrational expansion of at least two major aspects of Poe’s astral image: the star as the physical object of imaginative

perception and as the spiritual object of metaphysical desire. That it constitutes a third aspect — an aesthetic product of the confluence of the former two — depends upon Hans’s identification as the artist. It has already been shown that his very desire to escape an existence delimited by intolerable social and economic pressures expresses Poe’s understanding of the contemporary hostility between the artist and the servants of Mammon. But the very details of his adventure go even further in adumbrating the defining characteristics and procedures of the artist-figure as it is explicitly defined by Poe.

Imagination, for instance, is the most readily identifiable element in Hans’s personality and the real source of his adventure. Not only does he transform the literal moon into a Poesque symbol, but his sudden perception of the possibility of leaving the Earth is itself primarily an imaginative event. Beleaguered by the agents of social conformity and responsibility — his creditors — Hans stumbles upon a book on speculative astronomy. The volume’s distance from purely empirical science is indicated by “the wild and sometimes unintelligible reasonings of the writer,” which leave an “indelible impression.” Certain passages, in particular, strike his imagination (as distinct from his reason) and begin a process in which “vague notions” feed on themselves and become “a farther stimulus to imagination.” Hans considers his scientific naivety an advantage, for he wonders “whether those crude ideas which, arising in ill-regulated minds, have all the appearance, may not often in effect possess all the force, the reality, and other inherent properties of instinct or intuition” (H2: 50).

The role of intuition in Poe as quintessential imaginative perception is well-known.(9) And Hans’s speculation prefigures the hypothesis of the narrator of “Eleonora,” with whom Hans’s “illregulated mind” becomes “madness” and points toward revelation:

. . . the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence — whether much that is glorious — whether all that is profound — does not spring from disease of thought — from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect. They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who [page 83:] dream only by night. In their gray visions they obtain glimpses of eternity, and thrill, in waking, to find that they have been upon the verge of the great secret. . . . They penetrate, however rudderless and compassless, into the vast ocean of the “light ineffable” and again, like the adventurers of the Nubian geographer, “agressi sunt mare tenebrarum, quid in eo esset exploraturi.” (H4: 236)

Poe returned to this figure of the Nubian discoverer again in his own waking dream, Eureka, where he is himself the explorer into the dark reaches of interstellar space in search of the “light ineffable” — but Hans is his first portrait of the metaphysical investigator as cosmic voyager.

From the moment of the original “intuition” inspired by the “wild reasonings” of the speculative astronomer, Hans proceeds precisely according to Poe’s famous aesthetic prescriptions: that the artist work with his desired effect constantly in view; that all elements in the artwork conspire to that effect; that “It is only with the denouement constantly in view that we can give a plot its indispensable air of consequence, or causation, by making the incidents, and especially the tone at all points, tend to the development of the intention” (H13: 153; 14: 193). After the encounter with speculative astronomy, he immediately purchases volumes on mechanics and on practical astronomy, which, although it makes perfect narrative sense, also directly refers to Poe’s theories on the necessarily executive nature of the literary enterprise. Poe insisted on art’s derivation from both “constructive ability” and certain strengths of character.

This ability is based, to be sure, in great part, upon the faculty of analysis, enabling the artist to get a full view of the machinery of his proposed effect, and thus to work it and regulate it at will; but a great deal depends upon properties strictly moral — for example, upon patience, upon concentrativeness, or the power of holding the attention steadily to one purpose, upon self-dependence and contempt for opinion which is opinion and no more — in especial, upon energy or industry. (H16: 66-67)

Hans’s account of the material he collects for his space balloon and its assembly reads like a culinary recipe, and although it may appear to the casual reader as gratuitous and tedious detail, it provides a direct representation of the self-reliance, industry, and concentration that Poe considered indispensable to artistic creation.

Hans’s meticulous detailing of his procedures also points to the artist’s skilled manipulation of material reality. “There is no greater mistake,” Poe asserted, “than the supposition that a true originality is a [page 84:] mere matter of impulse or inspiration. To originate, is carefully, patiently, and understandingly to combine” (H14: 73), and he added that “The pure imagination chooses, from either beauty or deformity, only the most combinable things hitherto uncombined” (H12: 37). But the artist is impelled to such constructive activity by the inevitable earthly frustration of his desire to merge with the universal Ens. The passage in “The Poetic Principle” where Poe describes man’s immortal longing for beauty as the desire of the moth for the star is the most important expression of his conflation of aesthetics and metaphysics, but Poe had written earlier that all poetry originated in a metaphysical longing, “in a thirst for a wilder Beauty than Earth supplies” (H11: 256). And he claimed that the soul attempts to quench this thirst by “novel combinations, of those combinations which our predecessors, toiling in the same chase of the same phantom, have already set in order. We thus clearly deduce the novelty, the originality, the invention, the imagination, or lastly the creation of BEAUTY, (for the terms as here employed are synonymous) as the essence of all Poesy” (H10: 73). The carefully constructed and minutely described balloon that carries Hans to the moon should thus be considered in terms of Poesy conception of art as a vehicle for transcendence. With its cambric muslin, gum of caouthchouc, and the unknown gas contributed by Hans’s cousin of Nantz, the entire apparatus, like the poem, is the product of the “collocation of forms” and “novel combinations” that result in an ecstatic experience “to which all other human emotions are vapid and insignificant” (H11: 256).

Hans’s narrative takes the form of a ship’s log book or a journal — beginning on April fool’s day (which contributes to the hoax readings of the tale) and ending on 19 April. Poe had used the same narrative structure in “MS. Found in a Bottle” (1833) and would resort to it later in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838). This particular form, then, should be associated in Poe with narratives whose fundamental projects involve the translation of the questing spirit to some reality beyond the confines of familiar experience. Hans’s very surname links him with the narrators of these other tales. Poe illustrated his concept of “perverseness” — a pre-Freudian version of the “death” instinct — by describing the inexplicable temptation one feels when on the brink of dangerous precipices to leap into the abyss, and there is the familiar passage in Pym where the narrator, experiencing precisely this “longing to fall,” is rescued only by landing in the arms of his companion, Dirk Peters (H3: 230, 6: 149-150).(10) Despite the orthographic deformation, “Haas Mall” points to this same perverseness, and the mixed jubilation and fear that Hans experiences in the final bouleversement and descent to the moon repeat the mingled horror and ecstasy of the closing phrase of “Ms. Found in a Bottle” — ‘Going down.” [page 85:]

All the major features of “Haas Pfaall” are thus directly attributable to Poe’s aesthetic and metaphysical concerns. Even its hoax aspects may be profitably considered under such a rubric.(11) Poe differentiated the tale from the poem by identifying “truth” rather than “beauty” as its primary goal. Consequently, its range of reference was broader, and he included “humor” among its possible strategies for achieving or embodying truth. Finally, however, that Poe was profoundly interested in the kind of aesthetic fable outlined here is indicated by another passage from the review of Conti the Discarded cited earlier, in which he identified what was for his readers a new kind of fiction:

We speak of the Art Novels — the Kunstromanen — books written not so much in immediate defence, or illustration, as in personification of individual portions of the Fine Arts — books which, in the guise of Romance, labor to the sole end of reasoning men into admiration of the beautiful, by a tissue of bizarre fiction, partly allegorical, and partly metaphysical. In Germany alone could so mad — or perhaps so profound — an idea have originated. (H8: 231)

Not only “Haas Phall,” but the majority of Poe’s best and most familiar fiction proceeds from similar considerations and could be described in the same language that he used for the German art-novel.

Critics have noted that this early tale anticipates the culminating and more intense vision of Eureka.(12) Poe himself, in describing the mental and perceptual alterations necessary for the visionary enterprise of his prose poem, writes that “Among the vanishing minutiae of a survey of this kind, would be all exclusively terrestial matters” (H16; 187) — an observation that equally describes the actual events of “Haas Pfaall.” And Michael Davitt Bell employs Henry James’s famous trope of the “balloon of experience” in the definition of romance to claim that Poesy art embraces “romance” as a fundamental “sacrifice of relation” to conventional reality.(13) Within such parameters, then, the cosmic balloon voyage becomes a particularly adequate objective correlative for Poe’s ever-present and insistent metaphysical preoccupations.

Unfortunately, Poe has been read so often as an anomaly — whether in terms of an arrested juvenile commitment to horror and grotesquerie or of a proto-sophisticate American anticipation of the French Symbolists — that his participation in the concerns of his contemporaries is frequently ignored.(14) In its basic outline, however, the present tale conforms to such patterns as that exemplified by one of his preferred models, Shelley, in his “Epipsychidion”: [page 86:]

Then from the caverns of my dreamy youth

I sprang, as one sandalled with plumes of fire,

And towards the lodestar of my one desire,

I flitted, like a dizzy moth, whose flight

Is as a dead leaf’s in the owlet light,

When it would seek in Hesper’s setting sphere

A radiant death, a fiery sepulchre,

As if it were a lamp of earthly flame. (H2: 217-224)(15)

Poe’s specific imagery, even his plot, is rediscovered here. Thus, although “Hang Pfaall” is undeniably important among the inaugural efforts of science fiction, it must be regarded also as providing American literature with a native version of the general Romantic quest for the transcendence of common reality. Perhaps the signal aspect of its very “Americanness” is its use of science and technology in the projects of idealism.

[page 86, continued:]


1.  Jules and Edmond Goncourt early identified Poe as a literary pioneer, and in the 16 July 1856 entry to their Journal they wrote: “Après avoir Iu Poe. Quelque chose que la critique n’a pas vu, un monde littéraire nouveau, les signes de la littérature du XXe siècle.” Journal: Mémoires de la vie littéraire (Paris, 1956), 1: 256-257. For more recent and disparate evaluations of Poe’s science fiction, see Clark Olney, “Edgar Allan Poe — Science Fiction Pioneer,” GaR, 12(1958), 416-421; and David Ketterer, New Worlds for Old: The Apocalyptic Imagination, Science Fiction, and American Literature (Garden City, 1974), pp. 52, 65-66.

2.  See the essays by Shaw and Williams in The Recognition of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Eric W. Carlson (Ann Arbor, 1966), pp. 99, 139.

3.  Joseph J. Moldenhauer, “Murder as a Fine Art: Basic Connections Between Poe’s Aesthetics, Psychology, and Moral Vision,” PMLA, 83(1968), 285.

4.  These terms are employed by Charles O’Donnell in “From Earth to Ether: Poe’s Flight into Space,” PMLA, 77(1962), 85, 86; however, O’Donnell acknowledges Allen Tate’s well-known essays, “Our Cousin Mr. Poe” and “The Angelic Imagination: Poe as God” as his sources, which, in turn, acknowledge the ultimate source for this particular reading of Poe, D. H. Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature (London, 1923).

5.  For Poe’s discussion of death as the means of entrance to a state that confounds man with God, see his letter to James Russell Lowell (2 July 1844), 01: 257. [page 87:]

6.  “The Internalization of Quest-Romance,” in Romanticism and Consciousness: Essays in Criticism, ed. Harold Bloom (New York, 1970), pp. 6-12.

7.  The selection from Heine quoted in Lewis P. Simpson, The Brazen Face of History: Studies in the Literary Consciousness in America (Baton Rouge, 1980), p. 187, and Wordsworth in English Romantic Writers, ed. David Perking (New York, 1967), p. 289.

8.  The endnote to “Hans Pfaall” distinguishes between the tale’s scientific and technological emphases and the primarily satirical concerns of its precursors in the works of Francis Godwin, Cyrano de Bergerac, and George Tucker. But in the final paragraphs of his own narrative, Hans indirectly reintroduces similar concerns by his description of strange beings and allusions to exotic customs (H2: 99-101).

9.  For Poe’s use of “imagination” and the intuitive “guess” as synonyms, see H6: 205; 14: 187; 16: 197, 296.

10.  In his discussion of Pym, Charles O’Donnell describes the protagonist’s “longing to fall” as a “death urge” that is actually a “higher life urge” op. cit., 87; and Moldenhauer writes of the closing phrase of “MS. Found in a Bottle”: “‘Going down’ into the aesthetic death state is surely fraught with terrific anxieties and physical torments. But madness and pain are necessary stages of the protagonist’s progress toward Unity, just as the poet must suffer frustration and anguish in striving to perfect his poem,” op. cit. 296.

11.  See David Ketterer’s discussion of Poe’s use of the hoax as the formal expression of his metaphysics and epistemology in “Poe’s Usage of the Hoax and the Unity of ‘Hans Pfaall’,” Criticism, 13(1971), 377-385. See also Michael Davitt Bell’s chapter on Poe in The Development of American Romance: The Sacrifice of Relation (Chicago, 1980), pp. 86-125.

12.  See J. O. Bailey, “Sources for Poe’s Arthur Gordon Pym, ‘Hans Pfaall,’ and Other Pieces,” PMLA, 57(1942), 513-535; and Margaret Alterton, The Origins of Poe’s Critical Theory (1925; rpt. New York, 1965), pp. 134-152.

13.  Bell, pp. 7-10, 39, 87-125, passim.

14.  Recent and welcome exceptions to this observation include Michael Davin Bell’s work cited above, Kenneth Dauber, “The Problem of Poe,” GaR, 32(1978), 645-657, and R. E. Foust, “Aesthetician of Simultaneity: E. A. Poe and Modem Literary Theory,” SoAR, 46(1981), 17-25.

15.  Perkins, English Romantic Writers, p. 1042.





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