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Rebecca Pekron on Edgar Allan Poe

Dr. Rebecca Pekron recently received her doctorate from the Humanities Center at Johns Hopkins University.   Her dissertation “Que reste-t-il? [What remains?]”  Poetic Approaches to Immortality:  Baudelaire and After explores the concept of immortality in the funerary poetry of the nineteenth century.   Dr. Pekron graduated from Stanford in 2005 with a B.A. in Comparative […]

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This is KZSU Stanford.
From childhood's hour I have not been as others were.
I have not seen as others saw.
I could not bring my passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken my sorrow.
I could not awaken my heart to joy at the same tone.
And all I loved, I loved alone.
In a kingdom by the sea, I lived my inner bed.
I was just a child.
She was just a child in this kingdom by the sea.
We loved with love more than love.
Ed Graalen Poe, it has been a long time coming, but at long last,
entitled opinions is to voting a show to the writer who maybe
more than any other makes me proud to be an American.
Melville, Emerson, Thoreau, Dickinson, I guess I would have to include
Whitman, but I do so reluctantly.
It is Gerald Stevens's pound and maybe half a dozen other American writers do more for my national pride than just about anything else.
With the exception of a few dozen American blues artists, jazz musicians, and rock bands.
Ed Graalen Poe, though, is special to call him "Sui Generous" as an understatement.
He really is unlike any other American writer and what he declares in the opening of his poem alone,
still holds true today.
From childhood's hour I have not been, as others were, I have not seen as others saw.
I could not bring my passions from a common spring.
And maybe that's why it took so long for his countrymen to appreciate his erolite genius.
Poe was not Emersonian, was not Hawthorneian, was not with Maynian.
In many ways, Poe is not an American writer at all.
Harold Bloom understood that, and he resented Poe for that un-Americanism of his, whatever his walrus opinions worth.
The French modernist adopted Poe as their ancestor and it's fair to say that Poe is in some ways more French than American in spirit.
We'll be discussing that strange French connection later in today's show.
The fact of the matter is that Poe ultimately defies categorization.
He's certainly invented a number of literary categories and genres that didn't exist before,
and we'll be talking about some of them shortly.
As my guest and I try to shed some light on the wondrous and enigmatic Edgar Allan Poe.
My guest is Rebecca Peckron.
Rebecca got her BA in comparative literature here at Stanford in 2005,
before going on to Johns Hopkins University, where she earned a doctorate from the Hopkins Humanities Center.
Her dissertation, Cohes de Tyl, poetic approaches to immortality,
but there and after.
Explores the concept of immortality in the funerary poetry of the 19th century.
Edgar Allan Poe looms large in her work, and she recently participated in a panel dedicated to Poe at the American comparative literature of the
Association Conference. She currently lives in San Francisco, where she's working on her first book of fiction. Becky, welcome to the program.
Thank you, Robert. Thank you for having me.
So I want to begin with just a straightforward question, which is, I know that you love Poe.
Can you share with our listeners what exactly is it about him that captivates you?
And why do you love him so?
Sure, Robert, there are two things that I love about Poe, and the first is his attitude of all,
and which he kind of approaches the universe and the world around him.
So I first admire this attitude of all, and secondly, I admire his respect for dark spaces and places.
He says about his short stories that you shouldn't provide too much detail in terms of what does the monster look like,
what does the villain look like, and leave those things up to people's imagination.
And I really love his respect for the unknown and the dark, and those are the two things that really have drawn me to him.
So there's the unknown and the dark.
That's right.
And that's why sometimes he's associated with the movement called dark romanticism, whatever that is.
Yeah, that's, I think, Poe is, you know, a movement all of his own, I think, you know, too difficult to place him in line with other people,
and I think that's been a big difficulty and is reception all along.
I agree, and all the attempts categorize him, I think.
Well, it's not that they fail, it's just that, as you say, he belongs in a kind of, not just a category of his own,
but I was reading something that you brought my attention to by the French poet, Malat Me, we'll talk about that.
And he says about Edgar Allan Poe that he was aero light, and that he was like a meteorite, that there was something extra to restry about him.
And it got me thinking that in a certain sense, I've, you know, with all the authors and figures that we've covered on entitled opinions over the years, there's only one other artist that I truly consider extra to restry as Poe was, and that was Jimmy Hendrix.
I did a show on that.
That does not surprise me, actually. I see that kind of rainbow, Jimmy Hendrix, Poe, that kind of other worldliness. I do see a lot of that for sure.
Yeah, you know, himbo might be one too, but we haven't done a show on a ram, strangely enough, had not yet done a show on a ram, but there's something about Poe, which seems extra terrestrial because you can't account for him, either through his biography or his literary influences,
and he just seems to be coming from another planet. We can talk more about his late prose poem, Eureka, later, which seems to add evidence to this.
Your dissertation was about the French modernist, but led one of the main figures, but also Maladme.
And as I mentioned, my intro, Poe was adopted by these guys as an ancestor of theirs, no?
An ancestor, maybe even something more than an ancestor, Robert, because in Baudelaire, where it's in his journals that he prays every morning to his father to Mariette, who is one of his servants growing up, Antipoe.
And so, I mean, there is something even, I mean, we do pray to our ancestors, but there's almost something, some sort of deity, in a certain respect, in Baudelaire's eyes.
But Baudelaire and Malachme and other French writers, Valerue, certainly adopted Poe as a kind of father figure.
And Baudelaire certainly saw him also as a double. So he will say when he first read Poe that he recognized not only subjects he would like to have written, but also full sentences that he had conceived of on his own.
Now, I don't understand that because, of course, Baudelaire's writing in French and would translate Poe.
And Malerue would also translate Poe, but Laerue translated more of the short stories, marginalia.
Malerue was more focused on translating Poe's poetry.
And Malachme would say of this project of translation that I inherited this work as a legacy from Baudelaire.
So there's also a kind of transmission, a kind of feminist, kind of very familial structure that's going on there.
And I felt working with the French poets that I could not understand them in their entirety without going back to Poe, even Malachme's onion.
And by Baudelaire takes its title from Poe's marginalia, where he kind of throws out this challenge.
He says if a man, a writer truly wants to be famous, all he needs to do is write a work that the title would be, "My Heart Laid Bear."
And that's, of course, the title that Baudelaire uses. And Poe says no man would dare to write it. No man could write it even if he dared.
And, you know, that I think that that really, that challenge really inspired Baudelaire and kind of definitely that's something we see in his journals, for sure.
What did you find that they saw in him that made the recognized Edgar Allan Poe as one of their own?
So I think they really identified, well, unfortunately they identified with his position as an outsider.
I think, you know, Baudelaire would write in his translation, the criticisms that bad critics heap upon good poets is the same in all countries.
And Poe really became the kind of embodiment in French, in that French circle of the poet Malachite.
And I thought they were really drawn to him from that kind of the way that people he was misunderstood and kind of denigrated in American culture.
And I think that that was one thing in particular that drew them to him.
And then also this second part of him, this darkness, that he was really, don't kind of bring out in an era where American writers were very much,
I would say facing the sun, Walt Whitman described like fresh air he wanted for literature, fresh air in the sun, and this kind of current of morality.
And that's something, you know, Poe, we find a kind of this dark subconscious that even when we're trying to be good, we can't be good.
And that kind of psychoanalysis love him because we have the occurrence.
And so those are a few of the things, despite his imagination, Malachite loved his philosophy of composition, which, you know, how seriously we take it or not,
Baudelaire thought that was very performative.
But I think Malachite took it a bit more seriously. And of course the philosophy of composition is where Poe describes the process he went through and writing the raven.
And he just says, you know, finds rhymes that sound the most kind of mournful.
The subject, of course, this very contentious line, the most poetic subject in the world, is a dead, beautiful woman.
And I think those, so I think Malachite was very attracted to the structure, the rigor and the rules that kind of dominated his poetry, and then borderline by that kind of darkness imagination that evil, evilness.
Yeah, going back to some kind of sense of original sin.
And in Baudelaire's case, the animus was against the Enlightenment, Phyllis-Oafs, who denied it, believed in progress and the perfectibility of humankind.
In Poe's case, some of his animus was directed, I think you mentioned, or at least alluded to the transcendentalists.
That's right.
Emerson and other transcendentalists who looked inside themselves and found God somewhere hidden within the self.
This glorification of the self as having some sort of divine origin or connection to the divine.
And in Whitman, you get a lot of that. It's the song of the self.
And of course, Poe, like Baudelaire, looks inside himself and he finds some kind of the scripture of original sin.
That's right.
And he made a lot of fun if they transcendentalists.
He did. He has a sense of humor. I think that's something people really overlook.
He calls that kind of commitment to morality. He calls it the didactic heresy.
And that literature should always have to teach you a good lesson, show you how to be a good person.
And I think he really believed that literature had another purpose.
And I mean, a pleasure actually in producing a fact, an effect on the reader, a psychological, an emotional effect.
And that it wasn't really the business of art to be teaching people how to be good citizen or something like this.
And yeah, and I think he really, I, and yes, very drawn to that kind of darkness.
I think he really, we see a lot in his work, the work of fate.
That fate plays a large role.
And I think that really goes against this idea of that you can kind of be this American idea that we have.
You can, anyone can become anything. And fate has no part in this idea of self-reliance.
I think those, you know, were ideas that Poe really struggled. I don't think it struggled with.
And you know, part of why people would claim that he was anti-American.
I think he also struggles with the American idea of equality.
I think, you know, and that partially comes from his own kind of socially marginal background, but also because he is writing in the antebellum South.
And so there's slavery all around him. And so anyone who's really claiming equality and Poe was not an abolitionist, but anyone who's claiming equality, you can't help but think at the least they're a hypocrite.
And so I think those were things that Poe was very liked to point out.
And especially in people, you know, he's very critical of many of the other writers, kind of contemporary writers.
He had no trouble denouncing in public other fellow writers because he was best known in his lifetime as a critic.
That's right.
Reviewers of other people's books in journals and periodicals, and he spent a lot of time writing for periodicals.
He even tried to found one or two of them himself.
And yeah, and it's exactly true what you say that he has this un-American vision of, well, I don't know about the inequality because I'm not all that familiar now with what his views on that issue were.
But certainly it's not very American to emphasize fate as holding sway over destiny or death.
And let's face it, death was everywhere, a daily reality in not only Poe's life where his parents both died of tuberculosis, I think, when he was very young.
His own wife, whom he married his cousin, 13 or 14 years of age, 13.
She dies of tuberculosis a few years later.
He falls into a kind of terrible despair about that.
It was also the case that those many of his stories about premature burial, the terror of premature burial, and I think he's right,
and I think probably could have the same effect of terror on a psyche than waking up, realizing that you have been entombed and that you're not dead.
This was not an uncommon, maybe it wasn't all that common, but it was not uncommon for people who were presumed dead in the mid-19th century, early 19th century of tuberculosis or something,
to be buried, and then they would find later in cases of exhumation that they had tried to scratch their way out of the casket because they woke up.
So he is famous for his emphasis on the macabre and the more abignes and so forth, but I think you're right that doesn't define him.
It's certainly an aspect of him, but it's certainly not what it doesn't define him in the sense of containing him.
It doesn't.
I think that's very true, and I talked about that attitude of all.
And there's also a real playfulness that we find in him even in the horror stories, something like the Black Cat where he's just so where they takes out the cat's eye and not that it's so grotesque.
So you almost think this is almost not serious, not quite serious, and either in something like his novel or the Arthur Gordon Pan where he said that it was just a silly book.
I mean, he's playing a lot of the time, and as a critic yesterday when you were talking about his criticism, he was Tomahawk Poe.
And part of, I mean, he was someone, we were still, you know, in Poe's time, it was very difficult to make a living just as a writer, and that was something that Poe was trying to do.
That was usually considered kind of gentlemen's activities, a leisure activity, but Poe was trying to do this to pay his bills, to pay his rent.
And that's actually very rare at the time, very difficult to do. Part of his sensational criticism at times is because he needs to build up a reputation. He needs to build up a following.
He says in philosophy of composition, a good, a work of literature needs to appeal, not just to critical taste, but to popular taste.
And he admired Dickens because Dickens had bridged that supposed boundary.
And we have him writing to Washington Irving asking for an endorsement.
He really wanted to kind of play up his personality. And there are people that say that, you know, Rufus Griswalt, who's supposed first biographer, terrible, very mean spirited biography that was meant to really condemn Poe and kind of bury him once and for all.
And what happened was actually that was a source of this myth that has led, I mean, that only made him more popular.
And we see the same thing kind of with reality starts today. I mean, Poe is kind of like the first or a very early example of someone who's trying, you may sometimes doing sensational things or cultivating a sensational personality, so that to give his work attention.
And that's not all that's at stake, of course, in his critical writing, but that's part of it.
That's part of it.
But there was more than just image management on, because he was seriously weird and tormented.
And he was alcoholic. And he was a poet, Modi. And he griswalt is true.
I've never understood Griswalt as this guy who had an animus against him, I think because he had been criticized by Poe.
And then writes that biography, as you said, which emphasized all the vices that characterize his life, which then made him all the more famous.
But then he becomes a literary editor. How does he become the literary editor of the works of Edgar Allan Poe? I have no idea.
Yeah, that is really fascinating. And something to keep in mind that Griswalt was in a similar situation to Poe is that he was also very kind of coming from a marginalized background socially.
He was one of 14 children, and born the backwoods of Virginia, who was also trying to make his living by writing.
And so he's coming at things from a very similar angle. But it's true that he was not a friend of Poe's, and it's shocking that he winds up being the executor of Poe's estate.
And kind of having access to all of these things that you would think, well, what a tragedy upon a tragedy is to have your enemy then be in charge of your post-human reputation.
I know.
I know. And you think that all the stars were aligned against Poe in that regard.
Like that blue song, if it weren't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at it at all.
And to have Griswalt as your literary executor, I think it did a lot of damage to Poe's post-missor reputation for decades after many of those letters that he cites, which turned out to be forgeries.
That's right. So many of it has, so much of it has been just kind of thrown out. It's just kind of created by Griswalt.
But you know, it did contribute to this myth that people were attracted to. But you're right to say, Robert, that it was not a myth that this is someone who suffered quite a bit, not just as an orphan losing his mother, his father abandoning the family, but then also having his father
father, having his foster mother died, his wife died. You have all these women. And of course, Mary Bonaparte was very famous psychoanalysis with, you know, said that this is why we find all these dead women in post because he did suffer so much.
And even with his burial, you know, and I think the burial of Poe is so telling, I think this is, and it's with a place to look for him in certain ways, you know, someone who is so involved with kind of the dead and the afterlife, the burial of Poe, you know, for 26 years after his death, he dies in 1849.
And you know, there's a lot of mysterious mystery surrounding kind of what exactly happened on that night. But you know, that's right.
That's right. That's right. And you know, everything from rabies to alcoholism to some political conspiracy, something called cooping where they get people drunk and dress them up and try to get them to vote multiple times.
But it was a very mysterious death. And you know, buried very, there's not a heroic burial.
No, there was an unmarked grave.
That's right. For 2026 years after his death in 1849. And that was actually, you know, there was a real international effort, including, you know, an American, there was an American hand in that effort as well, but he was rebarried in 1875.
And he did, he did malachné, so it was initiated by a school teacher actually in Baltimore started gathering money. John Ingram was involved. That was another of Poe with biographers.
Swinburne was involved and malachné took a big interest in kind of this rebarial of Poe because I think malachné had always viewed him as someone who had never,
been properly recognized. And that was, you know, for malachné, something that was very close to his heart. He had, in France, he was, Poe was the very first poet for whom malachné wrote a tombal.
And it's one of the most...
That's right. A tomb poem, which is the memorial poem. And it's one of the most famous poems in French literature.
And Malachné dedicated to Poe who embodied for him those ideas that, you know, that we think about when we think about the poet mo' l'it.
And that Poe really embodied that. And that kind of misunderstanding that surrounded him his whole life when Malachné really did see him as this kind of air light.
And someone, you know, who people wouldn't appreciate from the future, also a very, very avant-gat, and that it would, you know, he would kind of be understood only later.
And I think there's some truth to that. But Malachné composed that poem with Poe's rebarial in mind.
And so, yeah, that was a really beautiful international moment of recognition. There were American poets were there. And I love, you know, the report of Whitman at Poe's funeral, Robert, I think I sent that to you.
Yeah, maybe you could read it. Do you have it?
Yeah, I have it. I have it. I have it. I can read it.
And I love, I love this account because it's just so, it really captures the extent to which Americans don't know what to do with Poe.
It's just not just, we don't know how to bury him. We can't even figure out where to put him in the ground literally.
But then this kind of, this attitude that contemporary writers had towards him, I think, I, so I love this description of Whitman, and this is from a newspaper that's describing Poe's rebarial in the dedication of the monochon.
So, the newspaper writes, being in Washington on a visit at the time, the old gray, and that's what they call Whitman, the old gray, went over to Baltimore.
And though ill from paralysis consented to hobble up and silently take a seat on the platform, but refused to make any speech, saying, "I have felt a strong impulse to come over and to be here today myself in memory of Poe."
Which I have obeyed, but not the slightest impulse to make a speech, which my dear friends must also be obeyed.
In an informal circle, however, in conversation after the ceremonies Whitman said, "For a long while and until lately, I had to just taste for pose writings. I wanted and still want for poetry, the clear sun shining, the fresh air blowing, the strength and power of health, not of delirium."
Even amid the stormiest passions, with always the background of the eternal moralities, non-compliant with these requirements, Poe's genius has yet conquered a special recognition for itself, and I, too, have come to fully admit it and appreciate him.
Good for him, he comes around finally, but he says, "I did mention among that list of American writers that make me proud of my nationality, but I had to include Whitman, although I do so reluctantly."
Well, Emerson was for us. Emerson called Poe the Jingleman. That was particularly when you think about the bells, or the poem where Poe repeats the bells, the bells, the bells, and so Emerson, I think, was even crueler.
Oh, yeah, I don't mind them being cruel to Poe gave back as much as he received in that regard. It's just the e-the e-the e-turt, the sunshine and the eternal moral truth.
That doesn't sound like you're America.
Well, it doesn't sound like Poe. It doesn't sound like Poe. It doesn't know.
The Jingler, there is a sing song aspect to his poetry that turns some people off, which I think has a power of incantation, at its best, it has a power of incantation that's unmatched.
I was thinking of, you were speaking earlier about the death of his mother and how that, and he has a poem to his mother, that is very typically Poe.
It says, "Because I feel that in the heavens above the angels whispering to one another can find among their burning terms of love, none so devotional as that of mother, therefore by that dear name I long have called you,
you who are more than mother unto me, and fill my heart of hearts where death installed you, in setting my Virginia spirit free.
My mother, my own mother who died early was but the mother of myself, but you are mother to the one I loved so dearly, and thus are dear than the mother I knew by that infinity with which my wife was dear to my soul than its soul life."
So obviously this is a poem to the mother of Virginia, the young girl that he married, but nevertheless the mother is also where you are coming from in the Jimi Hendrix show that we did a few years back.
He also, Jimi Hendrix had a thing about his own mother.
Where are you born from?
And if there is some sense that you are born from some other planet metaphorically speaking, you don't know who your mother is, you kind of somewhere out there in another place.
But in Poe's case when he thought of his mother and then certainly after Virginia dies of the same thing which is tuberculosis, he thought of death.
And so the intimacy of death and life in his poetry which something that Whitman Emerson the others whom I love in their own way, but keeping these things radically separate and opposed to one another, that's not Poe.
The death is right there at the heart of it.
Yeah, I think Poe really sees those more two sides of the same coin.
And in a story like Legia, for example there is a kind of slippage between mother and lover and that kind of,
Legia of course is a very learned woman that kind of teaches the narrator kind of everything he knows.
And he is kind of submissive toward her in this way that's very kind of childlike he's learning from her.
And I think there is first of all this kind of slippage between mother and child or mother and lover.
And I think the question is a very difficult one, the question of women in Poe and obviously I'm going to, the feminist critics do not love, you know, pose treatment of women.
So I will say one thing that people don't often observe is that Poe actually promoted and read and reviewed contemporary women writers.
He was a champion for them and you can say well this is very paternalistic, but that was still something that he did and it's a fact was that these women who may have been overlooked in the 20th century are actually being rediscovered because he did review them and he did write about them and had working relationships with women.
And how important women were to Poe, I will say he's buried with Virginia and Maria who is the Pomey just read as Maria Clem is stepmother and he's buried with the two of them.
And that tells you a lot too.
But you know something that you have to say as well is that women are very much, there's the idea of the true woman in the 19th century of what Virginia will have called later the angel in the house.
And the true woman is submissive, she belongs to the domestic sphere, she's kind of, there's a great critic who says the truest woman is a dead one.
And Poe really, you know there are a lot of true women in that respect in Poe and they sometimes become kind of objects, but I will say that he's coming out of a very long tradition of dead women being central to poetry as a subject.
And I'm thinking of Dante and Beatrice, I'm thinking of Patrick and Laura and you know and of course that wasn't always a case.
And Ancient Greece you wouldn't have poems about when you had poems about men heroes.
No, well you know romantic love which is a Western phenomenon that really begins in the Christian era in a way that you can't really take it back to the Greeks.
The idealized woman is very often ends up being a dead woman even if she's glorified and heaven you're right Beatrice, Laura and other famous, he's old is and so forth.
I think that we should mention that as a poet, okay, he poetry was his primary vocation he took it to be, although then he switched to prose because he wanted to make a living as a writer.
And I guess he's best known nowadays for his short stories more than anything else.
But in addition to that he invented some genres that we really should put that out there on the record.
You know there's the narrative of Gordon Pym which is very science fiction and many science fiction writer subsequent ones you know trace their genealogy back to Poe and what he did in that genre.
There's the detective those four or five detective stories of what's a guy Auguste Jupyah is the detective and the murders on who more and the permo and letter and so forth and there is no detective genre before Poe.
And what's fascinating you know so this is keep in mind murder is on remark is published in 1841 and Sherlock Holmes doesn't come into print until 1887 so that is 46 years before you know what kind of people remember as the iconic detective the Sherlock Holmes even comes on the scene.
Oh really was the first person to begin writing the detective story and things that we take for granted now about these detective narratives.
I think he or things that really originated in those first stories so you have this idea that the detective always has this partner you know the and you see.
Doctor Watson exactly exactly but you know and and that's the kind of we see the story unfold through the lens of this partner but that was something that really comes out of pose mysteries.
This idea of kind of you know we there's this real emphasis on the method and the kind of cognitive process that the detective goes through to solve the crime and I love that because I think the method was so important to Poe and that's what we see in philosophy of composition and he's really attracted to this kind of methodology and that really takes center stage in his in his mysteries and the other thing that I love about those detective stories is that.
The mystery is so central and like I said that's one of the things I love so much about him.
Was that you have him you know with that attitude toward mystery and making kind of game out of it and I think that's something.
That's one of the things I really love about him and how creative to to have invented he has a whole genre.
Well yeah and the room or obviously there's it's death and morbidity are there again but as you say there's all and there's this wonder which is very life affirming and the methodology that the.
The jupy uses is rationalistic it's sparkling with the kind of crystalline lucidity and of course in that sense very French the French just.
Go for everything that has to do with method and they love my.
You said that my dad was very taken with the methodology that's proposed in the philosophy of composition.
That's right maybe unlike boat led wasn't as crazy about that Texas but nevertheless it's true when you read those detective stories.
You have a sense not of the more of the morbid but how do you work something out and how does the process of unfolding on a nigma or a secret getting getting it to come out into the open.
Take place and it's I think was part of pose.
Relationship to the universe into the cosmos and then the ultimate mystery and then how do you how do you get the the universe to reveal itself to you.
That's exactly right and that's you know something that you see in your rica which is you know it's not very late work for po and this is after.
He's lost his wife and so he's in kind of somewhat of a personal crisis and.
But what I love about your rica and this is again the kind of you know challenge to this idea of po is just completely depressing and macabre but what.
A joyful title where you have this exclamation that's you know attributed to our committees you know and it's this all you have in that is this kind of joy of discovery and this kind of.
Delight I mean happiness to stand and you know he says he writes you're ego is just a scientific.
What he says it should be read as a prose poem and it you know you really see him.
Following a lot of those same processes and methods that we see a little bit like he's.
Not in the detective story but that's right kind of unraveling the mysteries of the universe in that in that work.
Well in fact it's unbelievable you re cut. We're talking about method and we're talking about revelation but he.
He doesn't follow a scientific method he makes it clear that he is trying to get.
He is trying to penetrate the veils of cosmic truth through intuition so in that sense he's not like.
Oh just.
Do you know that's right that's right.
You know I'm not really reading methodically or Cartesian yet nevertheless there's a lot of scientific methodology that is at work in that prose poem and.
It's just this is why there we're talking about an extra terrestrial origin he.
Has intuited the big bang he has intuited laws.
Things in physics that that really were not discovered until quantum physics you know late in the 20th century and.
Uncanny how his intuition led him to conceive of a universe which has a lot more in common.
With our contemporary cosmology of a quantum universe and even relative.
Universe then anything that was.
Part of the cosmic world view of his own time.
Again one doesn't know how to account for it's like a mystery that he must have been in touch with.
Some cosmic forces and spiritual forces himself in order to have those kind of intuitions even if he gets it wrong on the rotation of the planet.
Sure I mean it's such a.
There's so many people who are in the dark.
And so many ways like really out of left field in some way that you have this poet short story writer who suddenly.
Right this long I mean very long for a poem you know he's breaking his own rules from the philosophy of composition 40,000 words in your.
But what is. I mean there are so many beautiful passages we talks about the expansion and contraction of the galaxies as a divine heartbeat.
And he imagines God as a kind of writer and I think what's really interesting there and something that kind of falls out of scientific discourse now.
Is the role of imagination in our discoveries and even scientific discoveries and you can have DuPont's method.
But it takes you to a certain point and after which and this is pose respecting the dark places but also ask people to leap into those dark places and what we need for that is imagination.
And you know Einstein and I don't know if this is you know you can check me on the quotation but he said you know imagination is more important than intelligence.
And so you have even you know and where Einstein is a very imaginative scientist that goes beyond.
It takes those kinds of intuitive leaps and those same leaps that we find in Poe and you know and that was again you know you are so right when Mala may describe him as an air light.
And he says you know is kind of coming to us like an alien or someone from even from the future that he maybe even been kind of transported.
There's this feeling like maybe he was coming back to us in time or in that kind of idea or being before his time he really belongs to a different era.
Perhaps even to a different era perhaps even to a different country maybe maybe he was French and you don't configure that out.
I just say and at the same time being a very much a man of his of the south and wanted to be a southern aristocrat if he could have done it.
And I think and I mean in some ways and very reflective of his times you know mesmerism the idea of the hot air balloon he's he specifically chooses subjects that are contemporary that he thinks will appeal to a mass audience.
And you know that's purposeful.
And at the same time yes this totally alien quality this no matter you know he I mean there's a kind of nomadic quality to him even in the United States.
He's always moving from place to place I mean even now we have poem museums in Virginia and New York in Baltimore that just he was you know because it's like is that yeah he didn't really belong quite anywhere.
You spent a lot of years in Baltimore doing your your graduate work at Johns Hopkins is his presence felt there.
It is it is actually very in Baltimore and this is this is you know of course my opinion.
But it's a very has a real dark side to it and that is a place where I think I could see Poe being very much at home.
And of course they have a football team that's called the Ravens.
And so you know that so there are ways in which you know you still have his legacy in that way and of course there are bars that are kind of you know Poe themed but there's really and you really have still in Baltimore that kind of.
I don't know if there's something about the atmosphere that has that kind of and I don't know I don't know if that's.
But I think that the people there do feel.
Poe to be very important there's he's a cultural kind of icon and you know at his grave site every year there was the Poe.
The mysterious Poe toaster who for decades would every.
Every year and I don't know if it's on I think it's the anniversary of Poe's death.
He gives a big toast and he's this caped kind of masked person and no one ever knew any lays a few roses on the grave as well and no one ever knew the identity of this kind of mysterious toaster and it was kind of a mystery in the town and you know there are things like that where you still.
Where his influences still felt today and I think even so commodified I mean in terms of what you can find I was in Whole Foods.
Waker to ago and I saw he had there was a little book of his poetry for Halloween or you know where he's been he really lends himself you know on the.
Idiot sky to American literature you have a picture of Poe on the front.
He just it really lends himself to that.
So Becky I wanted to ask you about the the new book that dark.
Colleague Jerome our colleague I mean it Jerome McGann he's not a Sanford professor but he did spend some time here I I knew him he has a book called Ed Gralon Poe Alien Angel I like the subtitle to love the subtitle yeah alien angel and.
I know that you've been pouring over that book I have I did because you know I have to say Jerome again is one of.
Really fantastic critic I really respect his work I really admire his work and so when I heard that he'd come out with a book on Poe I was very excited and he didn't disappoint me I he has.
Really beautiful things to say I really love what he talks about.
Pose Marginalia where you have this the Marginalia Poe claimed were kind of with a text constructed from what he'd written in the margins.
And I think it's crucial to pose understanding of the way that literature works because he is going to put such an emphasis on the reader the whole point of the work is to produce an effect on the reader and that's a really big shift.
I know I want to say quite authority but of importance and that this kind of slippage between reader and writer that we find in the Marginalia is also something of course that we.
I think that it would attract a bottle there as well where he you know he famously says.
And so there's that real.
Slippery space between reader and writer that I think began is a great job of capturing in his reading of the Marginalia at the beginning of that book and I was also fascinated by his.
And I think that a suggestion that Annabelle which is that beautiful beautiful I know you love that poem as much as I do.
That it was a rewriting of the Dante betrosmith very specifically pointing that Poe was.
Really reimagining that content Dante betrosmith and instead of you know Beatrice goes up to heaven at the end of course and Dante and Annabelle stays in her tomb by the sea and then it's kind of anti transcendental.
Moment for him so but yeah I would really highly recommend the book to any poll.
Yes I would too for sure and and he's probably right there's at Grel and Poe knew his Dante for sure and you know loving with a lot more than love is certainly.
And of course once the Dante's experience with Beatrice of course your right Beatrice leads to heaven or as Annabelle stays in the tomb.
But yet even in the tomb it's not there's a transcendence in the fact that even though we're still in the in the terrestrial the earthly realm.
It's a transcendence of a spirit that cannot be extinguishing and really cannot die because the poet has managed to you know give it an immortal life on his own terms are talking about post terms this is not the kind of immortal life that Dante will either presume to receive from Beatrice or the immortality that he confers on her by writing the divine comedy but it's just a.
Well here I can mean I can read the poem you get a sense our listeners can judge for themselves where she lives on.
It was many and many a year ago in a kingdom by the sea that a maiden lived there whom you may know by the name of Annabelle Lee and this maiden she lived with no other thought than to love and be loved by me.
She was a child and I was a child in this kingdom by the sea but we loved with the love that was more than love I and my Annabelle Lee with the love that the winged seriffs of heaven coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that long ago in this kingdom by the sea a wind blew out of a cloud by night chilling my Annabelle Lee so that her highborn kinsman came and bore her away from me to shut her up in a
pulker in this kingdom by the sea. The angels not so half as happy in heaven when end being her and me yes that was the reason as all men know in this kingdom by the sea that the wind came out of a cloud chilling and killing my Annabelle Lee.
But our love that was stronger by far than the love of those who were older than we and of many far wiser than we and neither the angels in heaven above nor the demons down under the sea can ever dissever my soul from the soul of the beautiful Annabelle Lee.
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams of the beautiful Annabelle Lee and the stars never rise but I see the bright eyes of the beautiful Annabelle Lee and so all the night tied I lie down by the side of my darling my darling my life and my bride in her
the sea in her tomb by the side of the sea.
So yeah you can call that jingle that it does definitely strive to have an effect on the here or the listener through the power of incantation which is after all the
perfect power or perfect power of poetry.
But again although death is a finality in this case there is something that you know does not submit to its tyranny and it's and has something also to do with the age of the two that they're still almost children or the youngness of them.
That is that defies also the law of death in a way so to speak about the immortality of the sepulcher that's a very typically it's a very uncategorizable place that Poe creates I think in this poetry.
I think that's that's very true and I'm happy you read that poem rather because I think it was so important for Poe that the poems be read aloud.
And it's because he put so much emphasis on their musical quality and that's something that you can really feel only you know when it's when it's read and it often you know even very challenging to read at certain points if you don't quite get the rhythm right and the repetitions.
And you know there is no denying that Poe's dead women do not often stay dead.
It's not the end of the story when you know in the black cat the woman gets an accent or head I mean she comes she comes back in a way as does La Gia.
I mean there are other I won't even go through all the examples they they don't they don't stay where they're supposed to.
And I think I mean that's also a problem that you definitely find in Baudelauker as well as you know that kind of the dead don't stay in their graves and we're surrounded by ghosts.
Well I can tell you glass wave you know the band of yours truly and I began with the Annabelle Lee song from that album glass wave will exit with that song as well.
But we also have a YouTube video of Annabelle Lee and you know you look on when you go on that site seems like every two weeks or every month there's a new Annabelle Lee song from some contemporary artists and the amount of versions in just this one genre of kind of rock genre if you want to call.
With Stevie Nicks and others and they just they don't stay dead as you say they find an afterlife in all these different versions so Annabelle Lee has endless versions of the poem does anyway in you know in the musical realm and I always astonished if I log on there there's always some new Annabelle Lee there.
And I you know Poe was an author who was obviously I mean from his biography a haunted but I think you know and I think that's just why you get this really haunting quality and the question of you know the after life in the 19th century I mean you have this this idea of people kind of contacting the dead this interest in the the occults and kind of people's even I think Poe had a story I think where they said we brought someone back to life.
People thought oh my god it's been done well you know so I mean you really have this desire for the dead to still be with us and I mean that obviously is kind of an eternal human desire but.
Well sure and I for one I'm looking forward to reading your novel I hope it has some Poe in it kind of spirit of Poe.
It does a lot that's something to look forward to then a lot yes so I want to remind our listeners we've been speaking with Rebecca Peckron who got her.
M.A. here her BA here at Stanford and and.
It's back in the Bay Area now finishing her first work of fiction having written a dissertation on.
But led Maladme Poe we actually we didn't get a chance to speak about.
Poe's legacy in other countries like in with Latin America with.
But and you also told me Japan that he's huge in Japan.
It was very popular in Japan they translated him and in particular the black cat story had this kind of strange cultural resonance.
Black cats are actually usually considered good luck in Japan this is how I understand it but they're also kind of associated with a feminine female revenge and that story I think tapped into that cultural archive.
In Japan it really kind of he was an international earthquake and I think tapping into something that you know.
Not just American or would say.
But really that resonated was a lot of kind of modern movements for sure and that's that's where I think began is right about the global consequences of his work.
That's right really and she's in that sense he's a cosmopolitan he is that's a great that's right and I'd like to again insist once.
Once more that cosmopolitan not just in the sense that he's at would seem at home in many different cultures.
But that he's also at home in the cosmos or he he belongs to the cosmos in a cosmic way that it's still for me something that's shrouded in a nigma and mystery.
That's right that's right.
Well Becky thanks for coming on entitled opinions.
I'm Robert Harrison and we will be back with you again next week for a new episode of entitled opinions.
So Becky good luck with the book and we'll be in touch.
Thanks Robert.
Take care.
I'm a game and boy my and I'm very aware in the support of the city.
We love with love.
More than ever.
Thank you.