Text: B. F. Fisher, “Key to Recurrent References,” Masques, Mysteries and Mastodons: A Poe Miscellany (2006), p. vi (This material is protected by copyright)


[page vii:]


This collection indicates the diversity among Poe’s own writings and those about him. Readers will find studies of biographical topics, the poems, and several of the tales. Poe’s literary-cultural origins and his handling of the grotesque — a subject of recurrent, but seemingly inexhaustible interest for his devotees — also receive a fair share of attention, most particularly from Leonard Cassuto. Such a collection would be incomplete without at least one essay on Poe and detection, which Roberta Sharp capably presents. Myths concerning Poe’s life, works, and death provide motivation for the pieces by Ruth Clements, Christopher Scharpf, and myself. The late Richard P. Benton’s critique of “Cask” offers fresh perspectives on surprises and ironies in that favorite tale among anthologists; the cluster of essays by Jerry Herndon, Denise Schimp Magnuson, and Joseph Rosenblum treat “Masque” with like keenness. Ruth Clements and Ronald Gottesman offer similar illuminations concerning “Hop-Frog.” Poe’s poems receive deserved attention from Dennis Eddings and Patrick White; perhaps their work will stimulate additional attention to Poe’s poetry. Poe’s awareness of continental European literature is illuminated by Edward Piacentino. Kent Ljungquist’s able researches have resulted in an informative consideration of Poe and the New York Saturday Emporium, a mammoth weekly of the 1840s, which has not hitherto been given its due in connection with Poe. Overall, there is something here for anyone interested in Poe’s life and literary career, for Poe within and beyond his immediate milieu, ranging from several warhorses, as well as some of his less attended writings, to topics concerning himself and his career. Several rare documents are also now made readily available. All the contributors build upon work by others, but each offers new angles of approach.

I am grateful to the contributors for their fine essays and their memorable patience and cooperation. I am also grateful to Jeffrey A. Savoye, of the Edgar Allan Poe Society, for continued help in the causes of this project, and to Julie A. Fisher, whose computer expertise has vastly improved the formatting. Al Rose suggested that I assemble this book, and so the dedication fittingly pays tribute to memories of Professor Rose and the Professors Peirce, all supporters of Masques, Mysteries and Mastodons, and more general causes of Poe.

B. F. F.

21 July 2006






[S:0 - MMM, 2006] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Masques, Mysteries and Mastodons: A Poe Miscellany (Key to Recurrent References)