Edgar Allan Poe's reputation as an enduring and influential American literary critic rests mainly upon the pieces in this edition. Editors Stuart and Susan F. Levine provide reading texts, detailed explanatory footnotes, variant readings, and introductions to show context. They also face frankly the contradictions in Poe's critical opinions. Poe argues both that poetry is for pleasure, not truth, and that poetic inspiration leads to truth. Great works, Poe maintains, result from studied calculation, but also from irrational, supernal sources. Poe, both a biting critic and the doughty defender of American artistic achievement, was contemptuous of democratic art--except when vigorously defending it. Critical Theory highlights such conflicting ideas and suggests why they are present. _x000B__x000B_What was consistent in Poe's work was not a single theory, but rather wit, playfulness, concern for the strong effect, a bin of recyclable allusions, anecdotes and quotations, and a craftsman's discipline. Poe's writing on theory is of a piece with his fiction, poetry, and journalism. The Levines explain how these critical statements also tie tightly to the social, political, economic, and technological history of the world in which Poe lived. _x000B_
Subjects: Language & Literature
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