October 18, 2004

A misconception dreary


This review (registration required, although if you frantically click "back" often enough, you seem to be able to get past it) compares ETA Hoffmann to Poe:

The eerie darkness of Hoffmann's stories influenced a number of authors, notably Dostoevsky. Edgar Allan Poe most resembles him, though Poe's tales tend more to the supernatural than do Hoffmann's. Otherwise, Hoffmann's work seems even more unhinged than Poe's, and without such easy explanations (drugs, insanity) that come from Poe's history.

What's astonishing about this statement is that Poe's work is singularly lacking in supernatural effects. Poe was fascinated by obsession, revenge and guilt (the Tell-Tale Heart, the Cask of Amontillado), scientific and quasi-scientific phenomena (the Premature Burial, the Descent into the Maelstrom), logic (the tales of ratiocination), corruption, decay and death (the Fall of the House of Usher) -- I can think of any number of Poe stories touching on any number of macabre themes, but if I try to remember a Poe tale with a ghost or a vampire, a witch or a magician or even an unexplained horror, I am hardpressed to come up with one.

(The photo above, by the way, was taken at the cemetery where Poe's remains lie.)

Posted by Ideofact at October 18, 2004 10:49 PM