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By Michael J. S. Williams

"A global of phrases" deals a brand new examine the measure to which language itself is a subject of Poe's texts. Stressing the methods his fiction displays at the nature of its personal signifying practices, Williams sheds new gentle on such concerns as Poe's characterization of the connection among writer and reader as a fight for authority, on his expertise of the displacement of an "authorial writing self"; via a "self because it is written"; and on his debunking of the redemptive houses of the romantic image.

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Extra resources for A World of Words: Language and Displacement in the Fiction of Edgar Allan Poe

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He was . . of a presence singularly command- The Personage in Question 23 ing. There was an air distingue [Poe's italics] pervading the whole man" (TS 378; emphasis mine). The narrator assumes that the unity of effect is motivated by a unity of essence; of course, he discovers instead that it is a product of the careful combination of elements which have already been "admirably modelled" (TS 379). In fact, the General is more artifact than man (a nomination that, as we shall see, itself causes problems for the narrator), and can be regarded as a parodic figure for the work of the poet-"combinations .

Or to an indeterminate point somewhere between at which one becomes the other? One of the functions of the series of interrupted statements ("he's the man-") is to illustrate the possible range of "equivocation" in the word "man," in which figurative expression, general statement, proper name, and literary reference all lurk, and which come into playas the narrator tries to fix the word to the General and dissolve the mystery. " This tale is one of several in which Poe employs the concept of metempsychosis to examine the puzzling nature of personal identity;" Clearly, the apparent translation of a "self" from one body into another must raise questions about the nature of that self and its conditions of existence-its "principium individuationis" (TS 231).

C. Smith," whose "presence" conveys a "remarkable something" for which the narrator strives to account (TS 378, 380). He makes a series of inquiries among his acquaintances-all of which, after cryptic encomia, are interrupted at the crucial point, "why, you know, he's the rnan-" (TS 382, 384, 385, 386). In frustration, he resolves to "go to the fountain-head," to visit the General and "demand, in explicit terms, a solution of this abominable piece of mystery" (TS 386). " Or, rather, he discovers an "oddlooking bundle of something" that squeaks the protest "I really believe you don't know me at all" (TS 386, 387).

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