Monday, October 5, 2009

A Feminist Reading of Edgar Allan Poe

Tor.com has an interesting article entitled, "Living Poe Girl, Part I: Objects of Desire," which explores several feminist readings of the writing of Edgar Allan Poe.  Poe closely associated beautiful women with death, as shown in this excerpt from Poe's "Philosophy of Composition" about his thought processes while writing "The Raven":
"Now, never losing sight of the object supremeness, or perfection, at all points, I asked myself — 'Of all melancholy topics, what, according to the universal understanding of mankind, is the most melancholy?' Death — was the obvious reply. 'And when,' I said, 'is this most melancholy of topics most poetical?' From what I have already explained at some length, the answer, here also, is obvious — 'When it most closely allies itself to Beauty: the death, then, of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world — and equally is it beyond doubt that the lips best suited for such topic are those of a bereaved lover.'"
Having never before thought of Poe from a feminist standpoint, it makes me very curious to go back and re-read the classics... just in time for Halloween, since, feminist slant or not, Poe is still one of the creepiest writers I know of.

2 comments:

nishitak said...

I did catch that while reading The Raven and some of his other short stories. However, I am not so sure that I would put a feminist slant to this. I just thought he was repeating a popular style through his other stories.

I guess I don't read much into stuff?

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

I'm not arguing that Poe was a feminist--rather that if you read his works with an eye for feminist criticism, you get a different feel for his work.


Check this out if you're interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminist_literary_criticism

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