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Author Centred Reading Of Edgar Allan Poe's 'pym'

2545 words - 11 pages

|Year 12 English Extension |
|Meaning Matters |
|Author-Centred Response to ‘The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket’ |
| |
|Callum Lahey-Dillon |
|22/3/2012 ...view middle of the document...

Suffering poverty from the effects that inflation had on the careers on many publicists during this time, Poe sought to publish ‘Pym’ to reach a wider audience.(Willis, N/A) Poe a “sensitive artist struggling to survive in a merciless, mercantile environment that valued neither art nor the artist” (early in his career understood that to be appreciated authors must be read, and searched for a different author figure. (Magistrale,1998) I found it clear from the preface of the novel, Poe had to some extent intended to obscure the distinction between fact and fiction as the actual edition of this book was published anonymously, and written in Pym’s first person narration:

“I could only hope for belief among my family, and my friends who have had reason, through life, to put faith in my veracity-the probability being that the public at large would regard what I should put forth as merely an impudent and ingenious fiction” (Page 4-5)

As a result, everything I read seemed an attempt to fool and alienate readers, compromising my understanding of the “18th century romanticist, holding perfect dominion over a text” author awkwardly attempting a highly episodic adventure outside his usual genre that I anticipated for an audience who at this day and age were all too excitable over the prospects of far sea adventures, especially a fascination with Antarctica where much of the book is set as Ian Walker exclaims that “Poe also intended to exploit current fascination of Antarctica, as evidenced by the wide-spread interest aroused by the United States’ exploring expedition which sailed in 1838”. (Walker, 1986, Page 22-23)

Later in the novel however, Poe’s dark romantic domineering authority in the telling of this story becomes quite apparent. The construction of the implied author in my mind begins to radically alter and becomes difficult to distinguish from the real, or at least more familiar implied author as I come to an exchange with intense gothic imagery scattered throughout the book. Evident in their frequent appearance in many of his gothic texts; Poe’s narrator in ‘Pym’ seems to endure his deepest phobias; the fear of falling, being buried alive and of swift and unexpected treachery and seems almost paralysed by his ominous surroundings, A kind of narrator, as a frequent reader of Poe myself, I am all too familiar with through works like ‘Pit and the Pendulum’ and ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’. In one instance of the novel, chapter 3 specifically, Pym our lead protagonist enters a “paroxysm of terror” and gives a vivid account, uncanny in resemblance to everything we would expect in a gothic ‘Poe-ian text’ highlighting the consistency in his all his works even those in longer form:

“My dreams were of the most terrific description. Every species of calamity and horror befell me. Among other miseries I was smothered to death between huge pillows, by demons of the most ghastly and ferocious aspect. Immense serpents held me in their embrace...

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