Edgar Poe, a long overdue reflection

2022-10-17 @Literature

Having reread a handful of stories in my recent (albeit time constrained) access to an anthology, now came the opportune moment for a long overdue reflection.

It still baffles me having read nothing of Poe until not even three years back. Don’t know what I’d been doing.

Thus revisited the Oval Portrait: a short Gothic arrangement with a twist, housing a story within a story. As Gothic as it gets, as I’d say of this - and no less than a dozen of Poe’s tales. (Should heavily consider altering the dozen as the abused choice of authority-inspiring cardinals.)

Eleonora: a lavishing reverie if not altogether a poem in prose, given the refrain, the symmetry, the repetition, then the nature catalogues, the supernatural element: a lot within the sufficiently short confines.

Too beautiful, the two above tales, but nothing further in it I feel worthy of commentary, should I not ramble long enough - the doing of which I’m in awful close danger.

Entertained a first-time read of Maelzel’s Chess Player, sparked chiefly for all my unusual chess playing this year: not enough to sufficiently enhance my amateur opening game, the naive middle game, the largely chance closing game and the all-around sloppy game. But it has been a good deal of fun facing randomly encountered opponents at the diverse range of accommodations over a diverse set of boards.

8:15 AM. I detect no less than two chess sets at this here hostel in Guatemala. Should anyone challenge me to a match, I should likely drop all, acquiesce for no indefinite time frame until late into the morning, any priorities tossed asunder. I’d only found one opponent in Salvador (of Bahía) to inspire this much irresponsible chess action.

But nothing in the spirit of chess is to be found in Maelzel’s Chess Player, that analytical essay (narrated in a similar style as Purloined Letter), demystifying that chess-playing automaton, The Turk, of wide renown in the late 18th century.

In the well-written effort Poe enumerates no less than two dozen … that is, an impressively sized bag of lofty arguments. Although I had encountered a point or two that didn’t agree with the subsequent theorems of computational complexity I studied rather ardently as a hobby not that long back.

While on the subject, had anyone read Защита Лужина, that is, Nabokov’s Luzhin’s Defense? Curious to ascertain the element of chess in that early Russian-language novel of Nabokov, yet obstinate to reference online content for fear (and contempt) of spoiling material.

Moving on. Poe ultimately produced much satire, or stories that I’d predominantly so classify. And though haven’t ran a count, the satire may well constitute a greater subset (in that immaculate body of work).

Yet I’m of the distinct impression that Poe’s satire simply isn’t as widely read or treated in popular culture. I guess this isn’t your easily approachable material at first appearance: too heavy in obscure allusion. But you need not linger on the point. As with Joyce, the work doesn’t cease to affect its solidity for lack of clarity.

And I’d been in the particular mood for satire as of late: the Gogol stories, the Козьма Прутков parodies (which I’m challenged yet to divulge to a western audience), and finally a sampling reread of Poe’s satirical work: The Tale of Jerusalem, Lionizing, Duc de L'Omelette and Bon-Bon, all of which I’m eager to treat with the deserving due diligence you can expect to follow.

Questions, comments? Connect.