Poe’s Fiction; Romantic Irony in the Gothic Tales, (1973), title page and table of contents


Title page:





Romantic Irony in the Gothic Tales

G. R. Thompson


The University of Wisconsin Press

[[Madison, Wisconsin]]





Table of Contents


   Preface    xi
   [Preface to the online edition (2018)    na]
   Citations in the Text    xvii
1 Perspectives    3
2 Romantic Irony    19
3 Flawed Gothic    39
4 Explained Gothic    68
5 Grotesque and Arabesque    105
6 The Nightside    139
7 Romantic Skepticism    165
  Notes    199
  Index    241




All material in this edition is protected by copyright, exclusively held by the author, G. R. Thompson (secured from The University of Wisconsin Press on September 29, 2016). Permission has been obtained by the Poe Society of Baltimore from the copyright holder to provide this electronic edition for academic and research purposes only. The Poe Society of Baltimore asks all users of this material to respect these copyrights, and not to exceed what would typically be considered as fair use (generally interpreted as selective quotations and/or paraphrasing of only a small percentage of the total material, and with the appropriate attribution and citation).

The text for this electronic version of the book was taken from an original printed form, revised for XHTML/CSS and to follow our own formatting preferences. Pagination of the original edition has been included.

The table of contents is a reasonable representation of the table of contents from the original printing.

The Dedication page reads:

For Rose Marie Thompson
and our children
Hallie, Erin,
and Ian

Prior to the preface, appear the following quotations:

All that he has to do is to write and publish a very little book. Its title should be simple — a few plain words — “My Heart Laid Bare.” But — this little book must be true to its title.... There are ten thousand men who, if the book were once written, would laugh at the notion of being disturbed by its publication.... But to write it — there is the rub. No man dare write it. No man ever will dare write it. No man could write it, even if he dared. The paper would shrivel and blaze at every touch of the fiery pen.

Edgar A. Poe — Marginalia (1848)

... there is such a duplicity from first to last.... In case the reader should not be sufficiently observant of the duplicity, it is the business of the author to make as evident as possible the fact that it is there. That is to say, the duplicity, the ambiguity, is a conscious one, something which the author knows more about than anybody else; it is the essential dialectical distinction of the whole authorship, and has therefore a deeper reason.

Søren Kierkegaard — The Point of View for My Work as an Author (1848)

The following text appears on the inner flaps of the dust jacket:

[Inside front flap:]

This is the first full-length critical work to reconcile the comic and Gothic faces of Edgar Allan Poe. G. R. Thompson, in arguing brilliantly and fairly for a new approach to Poe’s works, has produced an exciting book which promises to advance Poe scholarship immeasurably.

In his admirably lucid style, Thompson demonstrates that Poe was not merely a Gothic showman, or only a clever satirist, but a stunningly complex psychological and philosophical writer in the dark tradition. This book reflects a growing minority opinion in recent Poe scholarship that the “serious” fiction is not to be taken straight but is instead an intricately structured body of work reflecting Poe’s comic, satiric, hoaxical, ironic temperament. Poe out-Gothics the Gothicists at the same time that he is pulling their legs. But, Thompson emphasizes, there is also a respectable, consistent, and even profound metaphysic to Poe’s work — his “ironic vision.”

Reevaluating Poe in light of nineteenth-century theories of irony, Thompson explores how deep-seated and all-pervasive the comic, satiric, and absurdist elements are in Poe’s Gothic tales. He concludes that the whole of Poe’s Gothic fiction can be read not only as an ambivalent parody of the world of Gothic horror tales, but also as an extended grotesquerie of the human condition. Not every reader will agree with Thompson’s full thesis, but none will ignore it.

It is Thompson’s contention that previous critics — underestimating Poe’s complexity and subtlety in the short story and misconstruing ironic techniques as flaws — have ignored an important aspect of Romanticism which provides aesthetic and [back flap:] philosophical context for reading Poe as an ironist instead of a serious Gothicist. Because Poe’s affinities with the school of Romantic Irony have not been studied previously, the author first places Poe in a historical context and then reads him closely. He meticulously surveys the German theories of “transcendental irony,” explores the terms grotesque and arabesque, and examines nightside psychology and metaphysics. To delineate the intellectual and artistic melieu [[milieu]] with which Poe had to deal, Thompson refers extensively to other writers of the genre, Poe’s critics, and Poe’s personal correspondence.

The author concludes with a chronological consideration of Poe’s Gothic tales (1832 to 1849), his novel Arthur Gordon Pym (1838), and his philosophical essay Eureka (1843 [[1848]]), in an effort to suggest recurring patterns of ironic structures and tensions in each work, with specific reference to the obsessive themes of perversity and nothingness as illustrative of the pervasiveness of the Romantic-Ironic consciousness in Poe. Thus, through a blend of historical scholarship, New Criticism, and structuralism, we can see Poe’s Gothic fiction in a new literary and philosophical context.

G. R. Thompson, Editor of Poe Studies and of ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance, is Associate Professor of English at Washington State University. He is a contributor to American Literary Scholarship: An Annual, and he has edited three books and made numerous contributions to scholarly journals, predominantly concerning Poe.


[S:0 - GRTPF, 1973] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Poe's Fiction; Romantic Irony in the Gothic Tales - (1973)