Text: David E. E. Sloane, “Preface,” Early Nineteenth-Century Medicine in Poe’s Short Stories, Master of Arts Thesis, Duke University, 1966, pp. ii-iii (This material is protected by copyright)


[page ii:]


The purpose of this thesis is to show the use of early nineteenth-century medicine in the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe. Some sources for Poe’s knowledge of medicine are cited in the first chapter as a basis for this study. Poe’s medical doctrines, cited in the second chapter, were derived from these sources, or works very much like them, appearing in four general categories: phrenology, nosology, pathology, and mesmerism. In these categories, Poe’s application of medical material is presented chronologically. The present study indicates that early in his career as a short story writer, Poe used medicine as a Gothic device; later, he wrote plainly medical stories which present medical ideas and opinions directly to the reader without the careful adaptation of fact to fiction seen in the former stories. This study is limited to a number of Poe’s serious short stories and a few pertinent book reviews because these items most nearly correspond to the form and rough intent of the medical sources which Poe is presumed to have used.

The commonly known medical works of Poe’s era were available to me in the Duke University Library, which has a number of phrenological treatises, home medical guides, and medical [page iii:] dictionaries from the early nineteenth century. The Trent Collection of Duke Hospital Library furnished me with a copy of Dr. Benjamin Rush’s Medical Inquiries and Observations and several other useful books relating to medicine in Poe’s time. My particular thanks are due to Dr. Arlin Turner of Duke University for his patient help and advice.







[S:0 - ENCMPSS, 1966] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Early Nineteenth-Century Medicine in Poe's Short Stories - Preface (D. E. E. Sloane, 1966)