Poe and the Perfectability of Man, (1982), title page and table of contents


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Title page:

 

 

Poe and the
Perfectability of Man

by

Richard A. Fusco

B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1973
M.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1974

A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of The University of Mississippi in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in the Department of English

 

The University of Mississippi

May 1982

 

 



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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

                               [[PAGE]]
[[PREFACE    iii]]
Chapter  
I POE AND PERFECTIBILITY    1
  Introduction    1
  Poe’s Perfectionists    6
  Poe’s Reaction to Perfectibility    22
  Origins of Poe’s View of Perfectibility    28
II POE’S ARGUMENT AGAINST UTOPIA    38
  Introduction    38
  “The Devil in the Belfry”    41
  “The Masque of the Red Death”    45
  “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether”    50
  Conclusion    54
III POE ON HUMAN HISTORY    56
  Introduction    56
  “The Colloquy of Monos and Una”    57
  “Some Words with a Mummy”    61
  “Mellonta Tauta”    68
  Conclusion    72
IV CONCLUSION    73
WORKS CITED    76
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF THE AUTHOR    80

 


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Notes:

All material in this edition is protected by copyright, exclusively held by the author, Richard A. Fusco. Dr. Fusco has graciously granted permission to the Poe Society of Baltimore to provide this electronic edition for academic and research purposes only. The Poe Society of Baltimore asks all users of this material to respect the author’s copyright, and not to exceed what would typically be considered as fair use.

Because the original disseration was prepared on a ordinary typewriter, with very little avaialable in regard to formatting options, some liberties have been taken in this electronic presentation for the sake of improved appearance and readability. The use of underlines, for example, has been interpreted as indicating italics.

The paper includes the following abstract:

ABSTRACT

POE AND THE PERFECTIBILITY OF MAN

FUSCO, RICHARD A. B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1973. M.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1974. — M.A:, University of Mississippi, 1982. Thesis directed by Professor Benjamin Franklin Fisher IV.

Edgar Allan Poe based his definition of the philosophical concept the perfectibility of man on five eighteenth-century writers: Turgot, Priestley, Price, Condorcet and de Staël. A probable source for Poe’s perspective is George Tucker, a Professor of Moral History at the University of Virginia during Poe’s matriculation. Although he felt some attraction by the prose in perfectionist argumentation, Poe rejected its premises, choosing instead to believe that the study of human history proves the degradation of men rather than their apotheosis.

Poe’s critical stance has two implications for the interpretation of his fiction. First, three tales — “The Devil in the Belfry,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” and “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether” — have counter-utopian elements, reflecting Poe’s antisocial inclinations and his pessimism over the human condition. Second, three other Short stories — “The Colloquy of Monos and Una,” “Some Words with a Mummy,” and “Mellonta Tauta” — satirize the methodology of the perfectionists by inverting their historical analysis: the tales assert that each successive era is no better than any of its predecessors. Overall, Poe’s fiction about and criticism of the idea of perfectibility tend to be more reactionary than creative: he had no alternative theories to offer; he merely wanted to challenge the notion that mankind could progress.

Following the preface and the table of contents, the paper provides the following motto:

The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon

Turns Ashes — or it prospers; and anon,

Like Snow upon the Desert’s dusty

Face Lighting a little Hour or two — is gone.

The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám
(FitzGerald translation)

 

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[S:0 - PPM82, 1982] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Poe and the Perfectability of Man - (1982)