By Michael J. S. Williams
"A international of phrases" bargains 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 mild on such concerns as Poe's characterization of the connection among writer and reader as a fight for authority, on his understanding of the displacement of an "authorial writing self"; via a "self because it is written"; and on his debunking of the redemptive homes of the romantic image.
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Additional resources for A World of Words: Language and Displacement in the Fiction of Edgar Allan Poe
These two gazes locate his concern; we do not need the obvious pun on 1/eye, which recurs so frequently in Poe's texts, to note that his terror is prompted by the abyss that opens in the self once its sense of personal identity is displaced. When the narrator recounts that he "abandoned [him]self" to his studies, he is offering a literal as well as figurative statement (TS 230). But what is this "self" that he deserts as he enters "the intricacies of [Morella's] studies"? As he describes the way he came to a decision, he implies that he took a level-headed, commonsense approach to his work by asserting that he began only after he was "persuaded" that "my convictions .
8 7 It precipitates his attack and, as he leaps into the room, both murderer and victim scream-his "loud yell" intermingles with the old man's shriek. Later, when he tells the police that "the shriek ... was my own in a dream" (TS 796) , he confirms the interrelationship. i" He cannot "do the work" while the eye is closed, because it is "not the old man" who vexes him, but the eye (TS 793). " Consequently, the narrator's description of the old man's eyeit is always singular-offers a glimmer of a motive for the murder which is also self-murder.
Therefore "it must be allowed, That if the same consciousness ... can be transferr'd from one thinking Substance to another, it will be possible, that two thinking Substances may make but one Person. For the same consciousness being preserv'd ... " Locke admits this as a logical possibility, but suggests that "it never is so," for reasons that are "best resolv'd into the Goodness of God," who will not "transfer from one to another, that consciousness, which draws Reward or Punishment with it" (Locke 338).
A World of Words: Language and Displacement in the Fiction of Edgar Allan Poe by Michael J. S. Williams