Text: Margaret Alterton, “Chapter 03,” Origins of Poe’s Critical Theory (1925), pp. 68-94 (This material is protected by copyright)


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[page 68:]

CHAPTER III
UNITY IN THE DRAMA AND THE FINE ARTS

Unity of effect, Poe maintains, is the artist’s governing principle. The drama may be said to have led him to a deeper consideration of the means a writer may employ to produce an effect on his reader’s mind deeper than the means he apparently found in Blackwood, or testifies to having gained in his study of law. However strange it may seem, law had not revealed to him more than a suggestion of unity. For, it will be remembered with what dissatisfaction, in a review of a legal document, he had bewailed the lack of a generality governing a mass of particulars. But in the drama, the idea seems to have invested itself with a new and a fuller meaning. Indeed, evidence points to the fact that after a study of dramatic principles, he is convinced that the brief article in prose and verse is, in its nature, allied to a dramatic composition, and depends for its effect on the same rules that govern the drama. He is even of the opinion that the unities, especially those of time and action, find their most perfect manifestation in the writing of a brief article. And so intimate does he appear to think is the connection between the short story and the drama, that his ideas, when composing his short pieces or when commenting on what he presents as the proper method in their production, seem often tinged with notions of dramatic representation. The fine arts appear also to have been a field for his study of unity. There is reason to believe that he studied paintings of eminent artists, and, moreover, that he assumed the rôle of art critic with a seriousness born no doubt of the conviction that lie was establishing a well-known standard of criticism.

Much of Poe’s understanding of the essential features of the drama came from A. W. von Schlegel’s “Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature.”(1) Although Poe had met with Schlegel in the pages of Blackwood, it is safe to assume that he went beyond Blackwood [page 69:] criticism for a knowledge of the German critic. Professor Prescott points out Poe’s indebtedness to Schlegel, but he seems not to have gone further than mentioning certain general grounds of dependence. He speaks of Poe’s borrowing from Schlegel the principle of unity or totality of interest; of gleaning from the Lectures certain notions and curiosities for Pinakidia; of having obtained from that source most of his knowledge of Greek and Latin literature and important notions in regard to poetry. But more specific dependence can doubtless be established. It is highly probable, for example, that it was due to a study of Schlegel that Poe turned from the method of producing effect by logical sequence or a strict following of causal relations in the argument to a consideration of effect through unity. Poe appears to agree with Schlegel in the points that follow.

Unity in the drama, Schlegel says, cannot be taken in the sense in which Aristotle has attempted to represent it, that of a beginning, middle, and end. Such a “plurality of connected events” or “concatenation of causes and effects,”(2) virtually reaches no necessary completeness. Corneille, in Schlegel’s opinion,(3) also errs in his definition of unity, placing it as he does in the idea of connection between cause and effect. It is true, Schlegel admits, that logical coherence, or the causal connection is essential to the drama; yet he feels that if this is the fundamental principle of drama, then effect is diminished and true excellence is impossible. But, on the other hand, effect is greatly increased, according to Schlegel, if all the events are gathered under one point of view and denoted by a single name. This conception of unity involves, he says, the idea of One and Whole and is properly sought in a “system of metaphysics.”(4)

Poe, as has just been said, is apparently following Schlegel in his change from a strictly logical procedure for producing effect to that of a comprehension of ideas under a single point of view. In his review of Macaulay’s “Critical and Miscellaneous Essays”(5) he sums up what he feels to be the weakness of the rigidly logical style. Macaulay has erred, he says, in depending too entirely upon logical sequence in his argument. In fact, this closeness [page 70:] of logic is the trait for which, in his opinion, Macaulay is especially remarkable. The English writer leaves “no minute gap which the reader might have to fill up with thought.”(6) He thus preserves the “entire chain of his argument” at the expense of his subject as a whole. But, Poe says, “Truth for truth’s sake’ is seldom so enforced.” It is scarcely too much to say that the style of the profound thinker is never too closely logical. And he cites the instance of George Combe “than whom a more candid reasoner never, perhaps, wrote or spoke — than whom a [more] complete antipode to Babington Macaulay there certainly never existed.” Poe then analyzes Macaulay’s argument and tries to show that in its close reasoning the author has forgotten “the very gist of his subject,” the one main point about which all details in the argument turned.(7)

The source of this mistaken method of producing effect (for Poe is evidently putting it forth as an error), he feels lies in a tendency of the public mind towards logic for logic’s sake. People are apt, he says, to be caught by the closeness of the logic, and they comprehend the points and the sequence of the argument, but in yielding assent to this progress, the one great truth, the purpose of the chain of reasoning, is often lost. And Poe, in another place, expresses the same idea: —

“Few minds can immediately perceive the distinction between the comprehension of a proposition and an agreement of the reason with the thing proposed. Pleased at comprehending, we often are so excited as to take it for granted that we assent.”(8)

It can doubtless be seen from what Poe has just said that he believed, with Schlegel, that while logical coherence in an argument is essential to forcing conviction, it is still not the main point of the writer’s art. The oneness of the argument, the comprehending of all the details under one head, the connecting of all parts into a whole, in short, the unity of the piece, is the sole and rightful means of producing effect.(9)

Not only was Poe indebted to Schlegel for this changed understanding of producing effect, but we find indications that he was also using Schlegel’s explanations of the necessary means for attaining [page 71:] a unified whole. Through this advance in the study of unity, he seems to be considering the fundamental principles of dramatic writing. Accordingly, the mechanism of the drama, the unities of time and action and what he believed to be attendant considerations — namely, the object of the dramatic author, the means of attaining that object, the beginning and the dramatic aspect of the length of a piece — begin to appear in Poe’s work.

The dramatic writer according to Schlegel, and the writer of the brief article as Poe explains it, agree in the object they propose for their undertaking. Poe may not for this point have followed the text of Schlegel’s “Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature” to any greater degree than he followed Blackwood criticism; yet, it is highly probable that the definite statement Schlegel gives to the object of the dramatic writer caught his attention. Schlegel thus expresses the idea: —

“But how does a dramatic work become theatrical, or fitted to appear with advantage on the stage? . . . In general, the answer to this question is by no means so difficult. The object proposed is to produce an impression on an assembled multitude, to rivet their attention, and to excite their interest and sympathy. In this respect the poet’s occupation coincides with that of the orator.”(10)

Poe’s statement, to which reference has been made,(11) emphasizes, in a similar way, it will be seen, the object of the dramatic writer.”A skillful literary artist,” says Poe in his review on Hawthorne, must in constructing a tale conceive “with deliberate care, a certain unique or single effect to be wrought out.” In addition to this statement of the object of the literary artist, Poe gives, throughout his work as a critic, a constant reiteration of the same dramatic principle.

The drama and the short story or short poem likewise coincide in the nature of the impression to be produced. In both cases the impression must be a unique and single effect. Schlegel’s discussion of this essential of dramatic writing has already been referred to in considering the influence he brought to bear in turning Poe from a strictly logical method to a further understanding of unity. Reviewing for a moment what the German critic has said in this connection, we recall that he considered the three unities not to [page 72:] have been rightly defined. In general, his main criticism was that Aristotle’s “beginning, middle, and end” make no provision for direction towards a single end; that Aristotle’s understanding of action is something that merely takes place, or in other words, is something that is entirely external. Therefore, says Schlegel, “completeness” would be “altogether impossible.”(12) But his view explained in greater detail shows him to follow De la Motte in substituting for Aristotle’s unity of action, unity or totality of interest.(13) He now offers the opinion(14) that unity of action must be founded in a higher sphere of ideas; that it must take into account not simply external order of events, but a “more mysterious unity than that with which most critics are satisfied.” It is best explained, he thinks, by the unity which “exists only for the under. standing, and is neither visible to the eye nor palpable to the touch.” As an example of this type of unity, he cites the organic unity of a plant or of an animal which consists in the idea of life. This unity, he contends, while itself is “incorporeal, nevertheless manifests itself through the medium of the corporeal world.” Then he transfers this conception of unity to a dramatic piece and says: —

“The separate parts of a work of art, and (to return to the question before us) the separate parts, consequently, of a tragedy, must not be taken in by the eye and ear alone, but also comprehended by the understanding. Collectively, however, they are all subservient to one common aim, namely, to produce a joint impression on the mind.”

Poe obviously follows Schlegel in this conception of unity, for, in the first place, he seems to be aware of the German critic’s dissatisfaction with Aristotle’s treatment of the unities. In the early days of his connection with the Southern Literary Messenger, a short passage in that magazine summarizes the points that Schlegel had presented as Aristotle’s inadequate view. [page 73:]

Schlegel, p. 237

“It is amusing enough to see Aristotle driven perforce to lend his name to those three Unities, whereas the only one of which he speaks with any degree of fullness is the first, the Unity of Action. With respect to the Unity of Time he merely throws out a vague hint; while of the Unity of Place he says not a syllable.”

 

Southern Literary Messenger

Vol. 1, p. 698

The Unities

“Aristotle’s name is supposed to be authority for the three unities. The only one of which he speaks decisively is the unity of action. With regard to the unity of time he merely throws out an indefinite hint. Of the unity of place not one word does he say.”

It is impossible not to consider Poe as responsible for the insertion of this bit in the Messenger, for, although he was not editor at the time, he was an active purveyor for the magazine and he was, as we know, studying Schlegel’s “Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature.” Furthermore, Poe in a critical review gives Schlegel credit for the principle, and he thus shows that, in the nature of the effect to be produced, he is in full accord with dramatic criticism.”In pieces of less extent,” he says in writing of Mrs. Sigourney ‘s “Zinzendorff, and Other Poems,” “the pleasure is unique, in the proper acceptation of that term . . . and thus its effect will depend upon what is rightly termed by Schlegel the unity or totality of interest.”(15) Unquestionably, Poe feels, with Schlegel, that Aristotle has not been clear on the subject of the unities.

The beginning of a drama and the beginning of a short story or poem also appear to have points in common. Schlegel thus explains that the dramatic writer must begin at once to produce the effect he intends: . . .”The dramatic poet, as well as the orator, must from the very commencement, by strong impressions, transport his hearers out of themselves, and, as it were, take bodily possession of their attention.”(16) And Poe on his part is of the opinion that the skillful literary artist must, from his “very initial sentence,” start to bring out the effect he intends to produce. If he fails to begin at once, Poe says, then he has failed in his first step.(17)

Unity of time in the drama seems to have given Poe further light [page 74:] on the question of the length of a composition. From Blackwood we have already noted, Poe found notions for numerical length and for length expressed in time limitations.(18) From law, we have also observed,(19) he derived the idea that clearness and brevity bear a certain relation to each other. The drama appears to add to these former suggestions a physical and psychological point of view. While it is true that the length of a composition in its psychological bearings was evidently a common topic among certain critics, e.g. Kames and Blair, and doubtless Poe was aware of their comments,(20) yet it is obvious that Poe found Schlegel’s discussion helpful. The writer must “diligently avoid,” said Schlegel, “whatever exceeds the ordinary measure of patience or comprehension.”(21) Poe expresses the same idea in [page 75:] demanding(22) for the tale only that length which will not result in the reader’s weariness. And in the following he appears especially to emphasize length in the light of unity of time: “Without excessive and fatiguing exertion, inconsistent with legitimate interest, the mind cannot comprehend at one time . . . the numerous individual items which go to establish the whole.”(23)

Unity of action, as Poe applied it to the composition of a brief article, appears to be the outgrowth of a combined study of Schlegel and Aristotle.(24) The question seems to resolve itself into a consideration of the dramatic plot. It has been pointed out that Poe was doubtless aware of Schlegel’s dissatisfaction with Aristotle’s definition of unity of action; and, moreover, that he considered Schlegel to have “rightly” termed it the unity or totality of interest. While there is not evidence sufficient to prove that Poe later came to feel that Schlegel had misunderstood Aristotle’s definition of unity of action, yet certain indications point to that probability. In the first place, he advances the opinion that Schlegel errs in regarding the dramatic plot in the light of intrigue. “The somewhat over-profound criticisms of Augustus Wilhelm Schlegel,” he says, “have discussed the plot in bearings of complication, mystification, in short, of intrigue, to the utter avoidance of the simple and direct.”(25) Such a conception which is, he thinks, the conception of N. P. Willis in his drama “Tortesa,” is after the manner [page 76:] of many pieces of the Spanish drama and is, he further says, nothing short of folly.(26) In the second place, he announces it as his conviction that Schlegel’s unity or totality of interest, or in other words, Schlegel’s understanding of unity of action, has in reality the same meaning as the dramatic plot.

Before permitting Poe to explain himself on this question, it may be well first to examine what grounds he had for thus reasoning on it. Schlegel, it will be remembered, had demanded for unity of action the meaning of a “mysterious unity,” a unity that exists only for the understanding; and had denied to Aristotle’s beginning, middle, and end any such interpretation. It comprised the idea, he said, of a living organism, in which each part does a peculiar work, with all parts functioning for the good of the whole. If we compare this conception of unity of action, or totality of interest, as Schlegel had agreed to call it, we shall find that it restates in idea, at least, Aristotle’s explanation of the dramatic plot, though the German critic does not admit that for it Aristotle was helpful to him. For, in the passage from “Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature,” which I shall cite below, does not the “inward necessity” Schlegel speaks of as existing between each scene in “Romeo and Juliet” with reference to the whole play, have much the same meaning as the “mysterious unity” he had demanded when reviewing unity of action? And, on his own wording, does not the outcome of this “inward necessity” re-state Aristotle’s plot in the drama? From the parallel columns which follow, the agreement will, I think, become apparent.

The Poetics

pp. 33 and 83

“The plot being an imitation of an action, must imitate one action and that a whole, the structural union of the parts being such that, if any one of them is displaced or removed, the whole will be disjointed and disturbed. For that which may be present or absent without being perceived, is not an organic part of the whole.” [page 77:]

“The plot manifestly ought to be constructed on dramatic principles. It ought to have for its subject a single action, whole and complete. It will thus resemble a living organism and produce its proper pleasure.”

 

Schlegel

p. 361

“In an essay on Romeo and Juliet, I went through all the scenes in their order, and demonstrated the inward necessity of each with reference to the whole; . . . From all this it seemed to follow unquestionably, that . . . nothing could be taken away, nothing added, nothing otherwise arranged, without mutilating the perfect work.”

Allowing Poe now to present his idea of plot, we find him, as has been said, to be following a combination of Aristotelian and Schlegelian precepts, a dependence which shows, it would seem, that he had critically compared his two masters. At one time, plot is to him a unity, a totality, of interest; at another, an organic whole in which, for the good of the whole, each part has performed its peculiar function; and again, he identifies it with unity of action. For example, in his review of Bulwer ‘s “Night and Morning,” with evident delight he dwells on the totality of beauty which, he says, arises from the plot structure. And the plot, in terms of an organism, is clearly worded from Aristotle, as the following passages testify:

The Poetics of Aristotle

p. 33

“The plot, being an imitation of an action, must imitate one action and that a whole, the structural union of the parts being such that, if any one of them is displaced or removed, the whole will be disjointed and disturbed. For that which may be present or absent without being perceived, is not an organic part of the whole.”

p. 83

“The plot manifestly ought to be constructed on dramatic principles. It ought to have for its subject a single action, whole and complete. It will then resemble a living organism, and produce its proper pleasure.” [page 78:]

 

The American Drama

Works, vol. 6, p. 45

“We may consider a plot as of high excellence, when no one of its component parts shall be susceptible of removal without detriment to the whole.”(27)

In some instances Poe comes even nearer Aristotle’s wording, than in his passage just cited. In his review of Bulwer’s “Night and Morning” he uses Aristotle’s term disjointed to designate the effect produced by a faulty plot. Bulwer, he thinks, has executed his plot in error with the result that the pleasure derived from it is “disjointed . . . and evanescent.”(28) And Lowell, he contends, has produced in his prose efforts mainly rambling plots, in which “a certain disjointedness may be observed.”(29)

Poe is evidently convinced of the applicability, even the necessity, of the dramatic unities of time and action to the effective brief article. Unity of time, as we have seen, he considered to be destroyed by length; and, on this score, he considers that the novel cannot be a dramatic composition.”Without becoming fatigued, the mind,” he says, “cannot comprehend at one time — the numerous individual parts which make up the whole.” Unity of action, confounded as we have seen in Poe’s mind with unity of effect, and, again, with the dramatic plot, he thinks is denied by a constant shifting of scenes and a continued effort to “bring up” events to a certain moment of time. On this score, he advances the opinion that Bulwer’s theory of dramatic composition is altogether erroneous; that the effort the English novelist makes in his prefaces to “pre-coax” one to believe he has attained plot perfection and dramatic excellence, is at least questionable art.(30) Indeed, Poe states as his belief that, although Bulwer, could he see these comments, would doubtless loftily maintain for his “Night and Morning” dramatic qualities, the novel yet contains only the deficiencies and not the essential features of the drama. Thus, unity of time and unity of place, in Poe’s estimation, may only properly be applied to the brief article. If a writer’s intention is to be dramatic, why can he not, Poe asks, content himself with the brief tale? That is a species of composition, he says, which admits of the highest development of artistical power.

Poe’s application of dramatic criticism in his own critical work [page 79:] has already been noted. In theory he has constructed both tale and poem on fundamental principles of the drama. In practice, what did Schlegel and Aristotle mean to Poe? In the first place, the drama obviously caused him as he advanced in the art of story writing to begin more directly to make the impression. The long prologue in the “MS. Found in the Bottle,” one of his earliest stories, does not appear in following tales. It might seem, therefore, that this story represented the period preceding any dramatic influence; it may represent the time when that of Blackwood predominated. In fact it appears to agree with the tale of effect, as Blackwood writers gave it, in possessing the long prologue, which in both cases seems to be used to establish a ground-work of reality. Compare the following opening paragraphs of the “MS. Found in a Bottle” and several of those from sensation stories in Blackwood, with those of “Berenice.”

In the “MS. Found in a Bottle” the long prologue reads:

“Of my country and of my family, I have little to say. Ill usage and length of years have driven me from the one, and estranged me from the other. Hereditary wealth afforded me an education of no common order, and a contemplative turn of mind enabled me to methodize the stores which early study diligently garnered up. Beyond all things, the works of the German moralists gave me great delight; not from my ill-advised admiration of their eloquent madness, but from the ease with which my habits of rigid thought enabled me to detect their falsities. . . . After many years spent in foreign travel, I sailed in the year 18 — , from the port of Batavia, in the rich and populous island of Java, on a voyage to the Archipelago Islands. . . . Our vessel was a beautiful ship of about four hundred tons, copper-fastened, and built at Bombay of Malabar teak.”

As will be seen, the beginning of the “MS.” is quite similar to the beginnings of the Blackwood sensation stories. In the “Involuntary Experimentalist” the setting of the story is given in a prologue of considerable length “The destruction by fire of the distillery of Mr. B. in Dublin, some time since, will be in the recollection of many of our Irish readers. . . . I am a medical man, residing, etc.”

And in the “Man in the Bell” the prologue is also used: —

“In my younger days, bell-ringing was more in fashion among the young men of ——— than it is now. Nobody, I believe, practices it there at present except the servants of the church, and the melody has been injured in consequence. Some fifty years ago, about twenty of us who dwelt in the vicinity of the cathedral. . .” [page 80:]

In “Berenice,” however, the impression to be made appears to be in the writer’s mind from the start: —

“Misery is manifold. The wretchedness of man is multiform. Over-reaching the wide horizon as the rainbow, its hues are as various as the hues of that arch — as distinct, too, yet as intimately blended. Over-reaching the wide horizon as the rainbow! How is it that from beauty I have derived a type of unloveliness? — from the covenant of peace, a smile of sorrow? But, as in ethics, evil is a consequence of good, so, in fact, out of joy is sorrow born.”

While a semblance of a prologue thus appears in “Berenice,” yet it may be noted that only such points as are necessary to enable one to grasp the thread of the story are given, and, that moreover, these facts are so permeated with the impression to be made, that they do not detract from the oneness of effect. As the story advances Egaeus explains certain details relating to his family and ancestral home, yet he so interweaves into these facts misery and madness that they enhance rather than diminish the effect of the misery and madness that starts from the very beginning. For example, the towers of his ancestral halls were gloomy and gray; his family was a race of visionaries; the books in his library were of a peculiar nature. He relates facts of his birth, and recollections of his earliest years, yet with the same oppressive sense of misery and overhanging madness. He continues with his boyhood and education and the same gloomy madness hangs over his head. In “Shadow” there is apparently no semblance of a prologue. The shadow of death overhangs the tale from the very initial word.

In the second place, the influence of the drama is seen in the change from a solitary figure overwhelmed with sensation crowding on sensation, to what may perhaps be said to be an imitation of an action. Although the sensation method is never completely abandoned, yet the solitary figure gives way to several acting characters.”Metzengerstein” marks an advance in plot interest; the “Cask of Amontillado” may be said to be a little drama.

It remains now to show that Poe, in working out his stories, held dramatic representation in mind. In this regard, one has only to note how he intermingles dramatic terms with the writer’s efforts at perfection.”Most writers,” he says, “. . . would positively shudder at letting the public take a peep behind the scenes at the elaborate and vacillating crudities of thought, . . . at the careful selections and rejections — at the painful erasures and interpolations — in a word, at the wheels and pinions — the tackle for scene [page 81:] shifting — the step-ladders and demon-traps — the cock’s feathers, the red paint and the black patches which, in ninety-nine cases out of the hundred, constitute the properties of the literary histrio.”(31)

Not only did Poe study unity in the drama, but there are indications to show that he found the same principle extending throughout the Fine Arts as well. In favor of this conclusion is the testimony offered by his criticism. In the first place, he speaks of unity in literature and unity in the plastic arts as being controvertible terms in criticism. All the rules of the plastic arts, he says• in his review of “Peter Snook,” founded as they are in a true perception of the beautiful, “will apply in their fullest force to every species of literary composition.”(32) And, again, in the same article, he considered the satisfaction a literary critic receives from a narrative in which an unusual fact is developed, analogous to the “unalloyed pleasure” that the artist derives from meaningful strokes of the brush. Moreover, it is to be noted that throughout his critical work, Poe continued to use the painter’s conception of unity as a standard for literary excellence. A striking example of this use of art criticism appears in his comments on Dickens’ “Watkins Tottle, and Other Sketches” written in 1836. The “Pawnbroker’s Shop,” one of the sketches, will illustrate, Poe thought, the artist’s idea of unity of effect, and to make his point plain, he contrasted it with a passage also on a pawnbroker’s shop in a novel by William Leete Stone, “Ups and Downs in the Life of a Distressed Gentleman.”(33) In the one, the reader is conscious, Poe said, that the anecdotes introduced by the author bear only a “shadowy relation” to their subject; while in the other, the work of Dickens, the effect is one of a “gradually perfecting picture,” in which the pawnbroker’s shop, in its wretchedness and extortion, is the main idea. To this idea, the reader feels, all the groupings and fillings-in are subservient. And Poe adds: — “So perfect, and never-to-be-forgotten a picture cannot be brought about by any such trumpery exertion, or still more, trumpery talent, as we find employed in the ineffective daubing of Colonel Stone. The scratchings of a school-boy with a slate pencil on a slate might as well be compared to the groupings of Buonarotti.” [page 82:] Of quite as much interest in revealing Poe as an art critic, is his further point about “Peter Snook.”(34) Conscious of unity in this composition, he expressed himself in painter’s terms.”The merit,” he said, “lies in the chiaro’scuro — in that blending of light and shadow where nothing is too distinct, yet where the idea is fully conveyed.” And, again, in his review in 1836 of the “American in England”(35) he uses the technical language of the artist. The author was right, Poe said, in not putting upon his canvass all the actual lines which he might have discovered in his subject. He comprehended that only by toning down or even totally neglecting certain portions of his object, could he bring out the portions by whose sole instrumentality the idea of the whole composition could be conveyed. In Poe’s opinion, the author of the “American in England” was well aware that “the apparent, not the real, is the province of a painter.” Likewise, in 1839, in reviewing “Tortesa,”(36) a drama by N. P. Willis, he warmly compliments the author on the fine ideal elevation of his work, a point which, according to Poe, is “forgotten or avoided by those who with true Flemish perception of truth wish to copy her peculiarities in disarray.” And, he quotes, with approbation, a passage chosen from Hazlitt, in which the English writer explains what he means by the ideal in art. Hazlitt had said, it seems, that a painter’s art lies not “in rejecting the peculiarities of form, but in rejecting all those which are not consistent with the character intended to be given, and in following up the same general idea of softness, voluptuousness, strength, activity, or any combination of these, through every ramification of the frame.”(37) Finally, in the statement of his critical theory given in 1842, as a summary of preceding lines of investigation, art terms are found to have their place.”A picture is at length painted which leaves in the mind of him who contemplates it, with a kindred art, a sense of the fullest satisfaction.”(38)

More decisive, however, than the testimony of literary reviews which show Poe to be working with the painter’s technique, was [page 83:] his criticism on art itself. He undoubtedly wrote some of the articles on the Fine Arts in the Broadway Journal. Professor Harrison lists “La Sortie du Bain,” though he does not publish the piece. Professor Campbell thinks that Poe wrote most of the articles on art in the second volume of the Broadway Journal.(39) Although it will be seen that Poe could not have written all the articles that Professor Campbell suggests, it can yet be shown that he was responsible for a certain number in both volumes.

An inquiry into the arrangements made for differing work in the magazine may help in assigning Poe his proper art contributions.

Briggs, the originator of the Broadway Journal, withdrew from his editorship at the end of the first volume. Several reasons point to the fact that it was doubtless he who was principally concerned with the Fine Arts department during the time he was editor. In the first place, he names no one as the head of the art department. In his announcement of his plans for the conduct of his magazine, he mentions, as a special editor, only the one in charge of the music section, Henry C. Watson.(40) Of the three, Briggs, Poe, and Watson, Watson could not have been the one chosen for the work on art. Briggs, moreover, is known to have been himself an art critic, Poe saying of him in the compilation of papers known as the Literati: “Among the principal papers contributed by Mr. B., [Briggs] were those discussing the paintings at the last exhibition of the Academy of Fine Arts in New York.”(41) A further reason assigns to Briggs the Art Department of the first volume.(42) In the second number of that volume, four weeks(43) before the selection of assistant editors, appeared an article on the “Art Union Pictures” which was presumably from Briggs’ pen, for the author speaks of filling a “vacant department of editorial labor.”(44) Briggs also [page 84:] prided himself, according to Poe,(45) on his “personal acquaintance with artists and his general connoisseurship,”(46) and was, it seems, a member of the Art Union. We may safely assume then that Briggs interested himself in the Fine Arts Department of the first volume of the Broadway Journal.

Poe, however, seems to have written certain of the articles on art in the second volume. A controversy arose between Briggs and Poe, in which the two disagreed concerning principles of art. It will be remembered that Poe had expressed his disapproval of the methods of Flemish painters, saying that they erred in their attention to detail. That they failed to conceive of their art as governed by the principle of unity, seemed to be his main contention. He now applied this same criticism to Briggs, both as writer and art critic: —

“If Mr. Briggs has a forte, it is a Flemish fidelity that omits nothing, whether agreeable or disagreeable; but I cannot call this forte a virtue. . . . I may be permitted to say that there was scarcely a point in his whole series of criticisms on this subject, at which I did not radically disagree with him. Whatever taste he has in art, is, like his taste in letters, Flemish.”(47)

Briggs on his part attacked Poe.(48) The trouble grew and the magazine was temporarily suspended,(49) but reorganized with Poe as chief editor. Watson remained, however, presumably in his capacity of head of the music section. Poe and Watson, therefore, could alone be responsible for the editorial articles on art in the second volume. Evidence suggests that they collaborated in the department of Fine Arts, for, in one number, the department presents two articles; one signed P. and the other W. On this testimony, Poe was undoubtedly author of the criticism on the “Ivory Christ,” the sculpture brought, as the article states, from Italy by C. Edwards Lester, American consul at Genoa.(50) Later, [page 85:] October 25, 1845, Poe became the sole editor of the Broadway Journal.(51) It is much more to be supposed then, that after obtaining full control of the magazine, his efforts would be at least as great to insure its success. Before this time when he had secured only a third pecuniary interest in the paper, Poe writes in a letter to Thomas(52) that he is working fourteen or fifteen hours a day, and that his hopes are high for the final success of the Journal. He writes to Griswold:(53) “It will be a fortune if I can hold it.” One may then assume that he would take advantage of his full control to allow only the expression of his own views to enter the magazine. With this assumption we may be safe in assigning to Poe, after the date of his full editorship,(54) not only “La Sortie du Bain,”(55) but also some remarks(56) concerning Titian’s “Venus.” Other articles on art in the Broadway Journal may also be attributed to Poe. In his few remarks on Titian’s ‘’Venus” he mentions having written a former article on the same subject. He says in the columns of the Fine Arts Department: “Under this head we have very little to observe. Titian’s “Venus,” concerning which we had some remarks in a previous number, is again being exhibited in Broadway.”(57) The first article on the same subject is in the first volume of the Broadway Journal. This fact is significant since it shows Poe to be writing on art during the time of Brigg’s editorship. Another contribution on art may possibly be ascribed to Poe. In the series of comments on the paintings at the American Art Union,(58) published in the Broadway Journal of September 13, 1845, is an announcement of a future critical account [page 86:] of the “Ivory Christ,” and it is to be noted that these remarks are identical with Poe’s introduction to his criticism on the “Ivory Christ.” This part of the series of comments must, then, be Poe’s. It is difficult to say whether the remaining pieces in the series are by Poe, or whether Watson is their author. The “Death Struggle,” one of these pieces, however, contains a critical point that is characteristic of Poe. The picture has unity, the critic says. In fact, this principle characterizes all the art criticism that I have attributed to his pen.

Unity as a literary criterion, in 1845, the date of Poe’s articles on art in the Broadway Journal, was not the unity of his early criticism. From the purely dramatic criticism that he found in Schlegel and Aristotle, the principle passed, as I shall show in the next chapter, through a philosophic stage, and later through a period characterized more particularly by scientific investigation.

It is this last stage in an understanding of unity that is used for the criticism of art products in the Broadway Journal. The “Ivory Christ,” Poe thought, was an expression of truth. The figure depended from the cross, he said, precisely as the human form would depend in the circumstances. The contraction of muscles, more particularly, in Poe’s opinion, about the calves and toes, were absolute in the truth of their expression. In short, the whole figure was perfect. And of “La Sortie du Bain” he speaks of the per fection of proportion. In like manner is unity discussed in the “Death Struggle.” He says in this instance, that the “anatomy is well made out.”

What did Poe study to acquire his knowledge of art? It can be shown, in the first place, that he read art magazines, for he speaks in his essay, “Anastatic Printing,”(59) of having a leaf of the London Art Union before him. He also appears to have studied paintings with the evident intention of applying to them what he believed to be standard measures in criticism. In favor of this assumption is the testimony found in a long article written in 1839(60) entitled, “Half an Hour in the Academy of Fine Arts at Philadelphia,” and signed, “By a Philadelphian.” The identity of the critical points contained in this article and those of both Poe’s literary and art criticism before and after the date of its publication, leads one to suggest Poe as its author. In the first place, both the Fine Arts [page 87:] article and Poe agree that talent is not to be praised simply because it is native talent. The article reads: —

“The first thing that engages our attention is Alston’s huge painting of the dead man restored to life by touching the corpse of Elisha. (Catalogue No. 46). The painter is what the cant of the times denominates a ‘native artist’, and it is therefore a high offense against patriotism, honor, good feeling and the seven cardinal virtues in a lump, to bestow on the performance anything else than ‘honied words of praise’. Phew! The delineator of such a monstrosity aught [sic] to be rolled up in his canvas, and both of them burnt together on the altar of beauty.”(61)

And Poe gives expression to the same idea. In 1836 he wrote: — “We get up a hue and cry about the necessity of encouraging native writers of merit. . . . In a word, so far from being ashamed of the many disgraceful literary failures to which our own inordinate vanities and misapplied patriotism have lately given birth, and so far from deeply lamenting that these daily puerilities are of home manufacture, we adhere pertinaciously to our original blindly conceived idea, and thus often find ourselves involved in the gross paradox of liking a stupid book the better, because, sure enough, its stupidity is American.”(62)

Beauty, in the opinion of the author of “Half an Hour in the Academy of Fine Arts,” is the most fitting subject for art. He is criticizing Alston’s picture of the dead man restored to life: —

“The taste which selected this subject for the pencil was unacquainted with that strict boundary line within which the graces have encircled this art. Pleasure is the sole end of painting; beauty is the sole source of unqualified pleasure: beauty then is the supreme law of this, and all the other, arts of design. The Greeks I take to be the despotic law-givers for the world in all that concerns art: they painted, not to display their skill or exhibit a resemblance, but to produce an object whose loveliness should gratify the spectator. Impression, which most modern artists seek, was not their aim; beauty was their constant Latium; and if they ever selected subjects of a tragical nature, they softened down the terror under the control of beauty.”(63)

Poe, likewise, makes the same contention. The sense of the beautiful, he says, is an important condition of man’s immortal nature. On this score he criticizes Longfellow for the choice of his themes.(64) [page 88:] In a following chapter we shall find that he makes beauty the foundation of his definition of poetry.

Unity in the composition is necessary to the painter’s art.”Death on the Pale Horse” the writer condemns since it lacks this principle: —

“Let us give one glance to ‘Death on the Pale Horse,’ which stands in the next room. I have always had a profound contempt for West, as the most commonplace and wooden of painters; but this figure compels admiration. . . . Yet the picture is a leap, not a flight of genius; in the filling up of the canvas, — in the unworthy idea of a particular death in the midst of a general wasting of the world, . . . we detest the essential meanness of West’s imagination, — that innate groveling temper from which he never long escaped. Almighty heaven! when the incarnate spirit of destruction was galloping on his pallid courser over the earth robed in night, and his extended fists flashing hell-fires, and universal life was fainting beneath his deadly breath, was it a time to think of lions snapping at horses’ noses or bulls tossing boys? Faugh! I could kick the unworthy corner out of the picture. . . .”(65)

With Poe, unity was, as we know, the basis of his study of the critical art.

The student of the pictures discusses indefinitiveness, making it a standard by which to judge the “Dead Man Restored to Life” by Alston: —

“The artist can exhibit but a single moment of time and a single point of view, and his production, moreover, is to be often examined, and long dwelt on. The portrait painter should therefore seize that expression of the face which is the most strictly natural, which is the center and hinge of every other phase of the countenance, to which every phase can be referred and from which all can be derived: the historical painter should select the moment of the story which is the most pregnant with future meaning, and leads on to higher and higher interest; the most elevated point of excitement should not be chosen, but the prelude to it. A common artist in Greece painted Medea slaying her children: Timomachus more wisely showed her meditating their death. Something must be left to the fancy, or else pictures become lifeless, and the art ceases to be poetic, and becomes merely mimetick. The sculptor of “Laocoon” chisels a sigh; imagination superadds a shriek; had he exhibited a shriek, imagination could do nothing. The business of art is to stimulate interest, not to satisfy it. Now Mr. Alston has seized a passion and a state of it which admitted of no progression of wonder; the next moment and a second glance will destroy it. [page 89:] There is no climax of emotion, no aggrandizement of interest: there is no future to the story; the present comprises and includes all: the drama is fairly over, and the excitement ended. Had he shown us a fiend or giant thus rising on his astonished enemies, we should have been chained in expectant interest; now there is nothing to follow; the next instant will unknit the corrugated brows of the bystanders, and turn surprise to simple joy. The subject in fact is poetical and not pictorial; but as the painter did select it, he should have shown us the dead man rising before the company were aware of it, so that we might be arrested in wonder as to what they would think when they perceived the miracle.”(66)

Poe’s remarks on indefinitiveness are strikingly similar. Music, he says, demands a certain “wild license and indefinitiveness — an indefinitiveness required by every musician who is not a mere fiddler, as an important point in the philosophy of his science. Give to music any undue decision, imbue it with any very determinate tone, and you deprive it at once of its ethereal, its ideal, and I sincerely believe, of its intrinsic and essential character.”(67) Identity of critical views is also seen in the connection between music and proportion. The author of the article on the Fine Arts discusses music in its metaphysical bearings. He seems to feel that, in this sense, it has the power of presenting to the mind a series of images that form of themselves a picture. He says: —

“This picture, [“Holy Family” after Raphael D ‘Urbino] calls to mind the notion of Byron, or Browne, of the music of a beautiful face. The forms are disposed in commingling curves with such liquid grace, — the dark and manly face of Joseph and the age-brown and care-withered, yet pleasing, countenance of Elizabeth relieve so harmoniously the young and glowing cheeks of all the rest, — that musical, is the epithet that at once occurs to every spectator. The expression has been charged with a false license of metaphor, but it is strictly true to the laws of mind, and if metaphysics ever come to be written by a man who knows how to think, it will be stated that all sensations and impressions — thoughts, sounds, odors, and all others — present themselves to the mind as images; and, being homogeneous, may of course be compared. Go over an overture in your mind, and you will find that it is a picture.”(68)

Poe also expresses his conviction that there lies between music and proportion, a connection the philosopher, the scientist, the painter, and the poet can both detect and appreciate. In the chapter [page 90:] on science, I shall present evidence to show how the idea grew up in his mind. We shall see there his correspondence on the subject with Judge Tucker, who appears to have been the one who first brought the matter to his attention. Judge Tucker did not offer any explanation of this connection; he claimed to be conscious of it, he said, only from the “accuracy” of his ear.(69) As was the case with the writer of the Fine Arts article, Poe appeared to find a reasonable solution in a study of metaphysics. And he engages in what he appears to consider illuminating discussions of the principles of equality and of proportion, deriving from them what he states to be a satisfactory interpretation of the music of the spheres. In natural science he meets with the physical law on which he considers the connection between music and proportion rests. In short, Poe, on the basis of this connection, defines and illustrates, it will be seen, his whole theory of metrical art.

A point other than identity of criticism to establish Poe as the author of “Half an Hour in the Academy of Fine Arts” is the evident fact that the writer is a literary critic who is studying art from a standpoint of literary technique. In the main he argues for the superiority in power of producing effect of the poet over the painter. In the first place, the poet is more universal in his appeal. —

“When the poet tells us of the impression which his Genevieve produces on his heart, every reader can appropriate the emotion to himself; each calls to mind the particular lady whom he most admires, and the poem seems to him precisely and exclusively applicable to her; because the same passion has been felt by all, though produced by qualities as various as the nature of each. But of all these causes, the painter is limited to a single set; and what he places on his canvas can affect only that fraction of beholders who may happen to agree with him in definite notions of the highest beauty — a number in any case small, and farther narrowed by the power of moral qualities in warping the natural conceptions of ideal fairness. His most beautiful woman must be an individual.”

The poet is again placed over the painter, since he is permitted to describe persons by impressions rather than by delineations. —

“Look . . . at old Homer; what do we know from the poet of the face or form of her who ‘for nine long years has set the world in arms’? Not a bit. ‘She was the most beautiful woman in the world,’ says Homer, and there’s an end of it. But when [page 91:] we see the cold and hoary sages of the council rising to look after her as she leaves the room — when we reflect that she was all that Venus could contrive, all that Paris could demand, all that Menelaus wished for — when we remember that for her Achilles struck, for her great Hector died — then we feel how wise was the fore-bearance of the poet, and how superior is poetry when rightly managed, to the best performances of the painter. We see Helen as we see the wind; only by the commotion which her presence occasions. Ah! those old fellows knew what they were about.”

Moreover, the writer of the Fine Arts article was not only a literary critic, but his literary interests led him into a field in which Poe, at the time the article was published, was known to be actively engaged. The interest in both cases centers around Pope. In the first place, the writer of the article considers Pope’s work of demolishing scribblers. He says “Poetry never won richer laurels than when Sandy Pope fought her battles.” He disagreed with Lessing, who, he said quoted “with triumph” from Warburton to the effect that Pope disapproved of the pictorial essays of his youthful muse. But the writer of the piece on the Fine Arts contends that Pope, in calling description a “heavy feast of sauces,” was only satirizing the manner usually practiced. Indeed, in his opinion, Pope was a master of the art of pictorial description. He cites as a striking instance the moonlight scene in the book of Pope’s translation of Homer.

Poe, as has just been said, was also interested in Pope’s work of elevating the standard of literature. That he followed Pope for the betterment of American letters, I shall now try to show. Poe was familiar with the “Dunciad,” for, in discussing versification, he quoted nine couplets from the first book of the satire.(70) He stresses the importance of Pope as a satirical critic. The critical art in America, he says, should no more neglect its duty than in the days of the “Dunciad”.(71) The forms of Pope’s satires are also known to Poe. In his review of Wilmer’s “Quacks of Helicon,” he accuses Wilmer of imitating the “sarcastic epistles of the times of Dryden and Pope.”(72) Poe even sees in Wilmer a following of “the most trivial points” — “the old forms of punctuation, the turns of phraseology, the tricks of rhythm, the arrangement of the paragraphs.” It is probable also that he knew the “Art of Sinking [page 92:] in Poetry,”(73) and that he learned from it that the use of magnifying and diminishing figures would produce an effect of bathos. Poe applied this idea of the bathetic to Drake’s poem “To a Friend”: “Stanza the fourth, although beginning nobly, concludes with that very common exemplification of the bathos, the illustrating natural objects of beauty or grandeur by reference to the tinsel of artificiality.”(74) He also uses the same principle in his criticism of “The Fall of Niagara,”(75) by John C. Brainard. That poet, it seems, had compared the majestic fall of the cataract to water poured from the hand of the Deity.

“The third line embodies an absurd and impossible, not to say, a contemptible image. We are called upon to conceive a similarity between the continuous downward sweep of Niagara and the momentary splashing of some definite and of course trifling quantity of water from a hand; for, although it is the hand of the Deity himself which is referred to, the mind is irresistibly led by the word ‘poured from his hollow hand’ to that idea which has been customarily attached to such a phrase. . . . Thus bathos its inevitable.”(76)

Poe also knew Pope’s art of versification, and there is reason to suppose that the writer of the Fine Arts article had the same knowledge. Two years before the publication of the article on Fine Arts, Poe had spoken of Pope’s understanding of counterbalancing fluctuations that have been used for the relief of monotone.(77) On that occasion he gave several examples from the “Dunciad” to show that Pope freely used this method to produce the metrical effect of equalization. It will be remembered that this connection of music with proportion was noted as an identity of critical views between Poe and the author of the Fine Arts article. It is therefore conceivable that the student in the Philadelphia art gallery, having already shown himself a student of Pope, may have derived some part of his idea of the connection between music and proportion from Pope also.

Quite as convincing, however, as the identity of criticism in the field of both art and literature, in establishing Poe’s authorship to [page 93:] the “Half Hour in the Academy of Fine Arts,” is his account of his contributions to the magazine in which it was published. Burton, the chief editor, had accused him, it seems, of supplying only two or three pages of manuscript a month. Poe replied by tabulating month by month the number of pages that he wrote, his computation showing that he supplied by the month, on an average, no less than eleven pages. If Poe’s figures are accepted, then, as Prof. Campbell suggests, more material must be assigned to his pen than has hitherto been done.(78) That part of this extra material was the article on the Fine Arts might be inferred from what Poe himself adds in his letter to Burton, to the effect that “at first” he wrote long articles for the Gentleman’s Magazine. The publishing of the Fine Arts article agrees in time with this early period which Poe mentions, since it appeared one month after Poe’s connection with Burton began. These points are contained in what Poe writes to Burton: —

“Upon the whole, I am not willing to admit that you have greatly overpaid me. That I did not do four times as much for the magazine as I did was your own fault. At first I wrote long articles which you deemed inadmissible, and never did I suggest any to which you had not some immediate and decided objection.”(79)

The fact that Burton deemed the long articles “inadmissible” need not, it would seem, preclude some of them from having been published, since the article in question was signed with a pseudonym.

A reasonable conclusion following this consideration of the article on the Fine Arts, may possibly be that, owing to the identity of criticism existing between Poe and the writer of the article, the fact that the art student was also a literary critic, the evidence that Pope was a common interest, and the necessity of giving Poe added material to make the extent of his contributions to Burton’s magazine reach his own figures, the art student and Poe were the same person. It may further be concluded that Poe was finding principles in the drama and in the fine arts to improve his standard of literary criticism, and his practice in constructing his tale of effect. In fact, it may properly be said that his understanding of the dramatic principles of unity of action and unity of time had much to do with the form he gave the short story. [page 94:]

A principle so congenial to the in the drama that he appears to following chapter will endeavor to upon unity. needs of a writer did Poe find in the drama that he appears to contemplate it abstractly. The present Poe as he philosophized upon unity.

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 68:]

1.  Professor Prescott is of the opinion that Poe probably read Schlegel as early as 1831; he bases his assumption on the fact that Poe’s expression, the bee Sophocles, doubtless drawn, he says, from Schlegel’s calling Sophocles the Attic Bee, appears in his Letter to B ——. (Prescott, F. C., Poe’s Critical Essays. Henry Holt and Company, p. 325.)

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 69:]

2.  Schlegel, op. cit., p. 242.

3.  Ibid., p. 243.

4.  Ibid., p. 244.

5.  Works, vol. 10, p. 156.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 70:]

6.  Ibid., p. 157.

7.  Ibid., p. 160.

8.  Ibid., vol. 14, p. 191. A Chapter of Suggestions.

9.  S. L. M., vol. 2, p. 667. Review of Hazlitt’s Remains.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 71:]

10.  Schlegel, op. cit., p. 37.

11.  Cf. Chapter I.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 72:]

12.  Schlegel, p. 242. It is of course to be understood that Schlegel himself, as well as other writers of his time, did not fully comprehend Aristotle’s meaning and his point of view. This is evident from Professor S. H. Butcher’s Aristotle’s Theory of Poetry and Fine Art, London, 1898. We are here, however, concerned only with Schlegel’s and Poe’s understanding of Aristotle.

13.  Ibid., op. cit., p. 243.

14.  Ibid., p. 244.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 73:]

15.  S. L. M., vol. 2, p. 113. Review of Zinzendorff and Other Poems by Mrs. Sigourney.

16.  Schlegel, op. cit., p. 38.

17.  Graham’s Magazine, vol. 20, p. 299. Review of Hawthorne’s Twice Told Tales.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 74:]

18.  Cf. Chapter I.

19.  Cf. Chapter II.

20.  Poe refers to Karnes and Blair as though familiar with the method they pursue in their criticism. He likens the “magnificent critiques raisonnees” of Augustus Wilhelm Schlegel and of Frederick Schlegel, to those of Kames, of Johnson, and of Blair. — Graham’s Magazine, 1842. The New York Mirror notices in 1832 the reprinting in America of Kames’ Elements of Criticism and Blair’s Rhetoric. Karnes, the notice says, has translations affixed to quotations in foreign languages. — The New York Mirror, vol. 10, p. 395, 1832. Karnes thus discusses the point referred to in the text: “I am ready to show, that a . . . representation, with proper pauses, is better calculated for . . . making the deepest impressions. This will be evident from the following considerations. Representations cannot very long support an impression of reality; for when the spirits are exhausted by close attention, and by the agitation of passion, an uneasiness ensues, which never fails to banish the waking dream. Now supposing an act to employ as much time as can easily be given with strict attention to any incident, a supposition that cannot be far from the truth; it follows, that . . . a continued representation of longer endurance than an act, must have a bad effect, by overstraining the attention and producing a total absence of mind.” Kames, Lord, Elements of Criticism. Edinburgh: Printed for A. Millar, London, and A. Kincaid and J. Bell, Edinburgh, 1765, vol. 2, p. 414. Locke, as quoted by Karnes, may also have been suggestive to Poe: “The . . . mind is so constituted that it can by no effort . . . keep its attention long fixt upon the same object.” Ibid., vol. 1, p. 291. Blair likewise speaks to the same point.”The sublime . . . is an emotion which can never be long protracted.” Blair, Hugh, Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres. London: 1823, p. 48.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 74, running to the bottom of page 75:]

21.  Schlegel, op. cit., p. 37. It is interesting to note that Aristotle does not affix any time limit to a dramatic composition. It is true that he draws a comparison between the necessity for the magnitude of a living organism [page 75:] being such that it may be embraced in one view, and the length of a plot being such that it can easily be embraced by the memory; but he uses no principle in determining the length. He only requires, he says, that the length shall admit of the whole being perspicuous; and again, that in tragedy the length should confine itself, as far as possible, to a single revolution of the sun. Indeed, he distinctly states that “the limit of length in relation to dramatic competition and sensuous presentment, is no part of artistic theory.” Aristotle, The Poetics of Aristotle. London and New York, Macmillan and Co., 1895; Translated by S. H. Butcher, p. 31.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 75:]

22.  Graham’s Magazine, vol. 20, p. 290. Review of Hawthorne’s Twice-Told Tales.

23.  Works, vol. 10, p. 122. Review of Bulwer’s Night and Morning.

24.  Professor Prescott comments on Poe’s reference to Aristotle. He asserts that Poe in The Letter to B —— in maintaining poetry to be “the most philosophical of all writings” misunderstands and misquotes The Poetica. He is of the opinion that in this regard Poe’s reference to Aristotle is “casual and second-hand.” — Prescott, op. cit., p. 324.

25.  Works, vol. 13, p. 43. The American Drama; vol. 10, p. 116. Bulwer’s Night and Morning.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 76:]

26.  Schlegel’s discussion of plot as intrigue, partaking of the nature of the Spanish comedy, is found in his Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature, p. 182. Cf. also, Poe’s remarks in the New Comedy, Broadway Journal, vol. 1, p. 205.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 77, running to the bottom of page 78:]

27.  It is true that in various reviews in British periodical literature one encounters paraphrases of Aristotle’s wording of plot structure, yet I have found no instance of a wording so nearly resembling Aristotle’s as does Poe’s. The following from Blackwood is a statement of plot structure that is similar [page 78:] to Aristotle’s: “It [the tragedy] is a chain so curiously wrought, . . . that, by leaving out a link, or thread, the whole is irreparably injured.” Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, vol. 21, p. 469.

28.  Works, vol. 10, p. 120. Review of Bulwer’s Night and Morning.

29.  Ibid., vol. 13, p. 168. Review of Lowell’s Fable for Critics.

It will later be shown that Poe worked out the idea of plot structure in scientific terms.

30.  Works, vol. 10, p. 124. Review of Bulwer’s Night and Morning.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 81:]

31.  Ibid., Philosophy of Composition.

32.  S. L. M., vol. 2, p. 730. Review of Peter Snook, October, 1835.

33.  Ibid., vol. 2, p. 458. Review of Watkins Tottle, and Other Sketches, by Boz. Poe’s review of Stone’s book, ibid., p. 457.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 82:]

34.  Ibid., vol. 2, p. 730.

35.  Ibid., vol. 2, p. 192. Review of the American in England by the author of A Year in Spain.

36.  B. G. M., vol. 5, p. 117.

37.  S. L. M., vol. 2, p. 668. Review of Literary Remains of the Late William Hazlitt.

38.  Works, vol. 11, p. 108. Review of Hawthorne’s Twice-Told Tales.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 83:]

39.  The Nation, vol. 89, p. 624. Bibliographical Notes on Poe.

40.  Briggs says, February 22, 1845, in Notices to Readers: “We have the pleasure of announcing to our readers that hereafter Edgar A. Poe and Henry C. Watson will be associated with the Editorial Department of our Journal. Mr. Watson will have the entire control of the Music Department of the paper, and will give it the full benefit of his well-known abilities.” The Broadway Journal, vol. 1, p. 127.

41.  Godey’s Lady Book, 1846, p. 199.

42.  The Broadway Journal started January 4, 1845.

43.  Cf. supra, note 42.

44.  Broadway Journal, vol. 1, p. 36.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 83:]

45.  Godey ‘s Lady Book, 1846, p. 199. Literati.

46.  Doubtless Briggs in his office as editor, and owing to his fondness for artists, may have been responsible for Page’s articles on the Use of Color which appeared in the early numbers of volume 1 of the Broadway Journal. Works, vol. 15, p. 265.

47.  Godey’s Lady Book, 1846, p. 199. Literati.

48.  Works, Biography, p. 211.

49.  Ibid., p. 212.

50.  Broadway Journal, vol. 2, p. 214. Watson’s article is entitled National Gallery at the Rotunda.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 85:]

51.  Ibid., vol. 2, p. 248. In the Editorial Miscellany is a note to this effect: “With this number it will be seen that we assume the sole control (proprietary as well as editorial) of the Broadway Journal. May we hope for the support of our friends?” See also Letters, pp. 216 and 217.

52.  Letters, p. 203.

53.  Ibid., p. 216.

54.  The last number of the Broadway Journal, however, Poe says was entirely the work of Thomas Dunn English. Works, Biography, p. 248.”The last number of the Broadway Journal — the work having been turned over by me to another publisher — was edited by Mr. English. The editorial portion was wholly his and was one interminable Paean of his own praises. The truth of all this will no doubt be corroborated by Mr. Jennings, the printer.”

55.  Broadway Journal, vol. 2, p. 260.

56.  Ibid., vol. 2, p. 276.

57.  Ibid., vol. 2, p. 276.

58.  Ibid., vol. 2, p. 155; also vol. 2, p. 214.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 86:]

59.  Ibid., vol. 1, p. 230.

60.  B. G. M., vol. 5, p. 78.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 87:]

61.  Ibid., vol. 5, p. 78. Half an Hour in the Academy of Fine Arts.

62.  S. L. M., vol. 2, p. 326. Review of Drake’s Culprit Fay.

63.  B. G. M., vol. 5, p. 78. Half an Hour in the Academy of Fine Arts.

64.  Graham’s Magazine, vol. 20, pp. 190; 248.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 88:]

65.  B. G. M., vol. 5, p. 78.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 89:]

66.  Ibid., vol. 5, p. 79.

67.  Ibid., vol. 5, p. 332. Review of George P. Morris.

68.  Ibid., vol. 5, p. 80.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 90:]

69.  Letters, p. 23.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 91:]

70.  S. L. M., 1837, vol. 3, p. 42. Review of Bryant’s Poems.

71.  Graham’s Magazine, 1842, vol. 20, p. 69. Exordium.

72.  Ibid., 1841, vol. 19, p. 90. Review of The Quacks of Helicon: a Satire.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 92:]

73.  The satire in which Pope, Swift, and Arbuthnot collaborated.

74.  S. L. M., vol. 2, p. 333. Review of Drake.

75.  Graham’s Magazine, 1842, vol. 20, p. 120. A Few Words About Brainard.

76.  Other references to Bathos, Works, vol. 2, p. 95; vol. 1, p. 306.

77.  S. L. M., vol. 3, p. 42. Review of Bryant’s Poems. This point will be more fully treated in Chapter V.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 93:]

78.  Works, Biography, p. 165. Poe’s letter to Burton. Cf. Nation, vol. 89, p 623.

79.  Works, Biography, pp. 166; 148.

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - OPCT, 1925] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - Origins of Poe's Critical Theory (M. Alterton) (Chapter 03)