American Gothic (I)

Uploaded by nyu on 20.09.2010

>> Today, we are going to talk about the move
out of the Enlightenment to Romanticism.
And as I suggested at the end of last time, the Enlightenment
and Neoclassical account of human consciousness,
the stress on humanism had a kind of sunny disposition
that you see in many of the principles of the Enlightenment
that we've talked about.
You know, the idea of liberty and equality, and brotherhood,
the stress on progress, I would say is part of the re-centering
of philosophical and intellectual interest
on human beings, what we might call humanism,
away from thinking about human being's relationship
to the divine as kind of a central act,
both of individual life and of culture more generally.
So there are many good things that come with the idea
of enlightenment, and I think there are real ways
in which many of the ideas that were spawned
by the enlightenment are, in fact,
ideas that represent progress in human thinking, thinking.
Things that today we would still want to maintain,
things like the dignity of the individual, human rights,
things like that, but as I suggested last time
when I was talking about Jefferson and his, you know,
questionable ideas about African Americans,
Phyllis Wheatley in particular.
I suggested that there was possibly a link between some
of those nice ideas, the conception of freedom
for example, that we might have from the enlightenment,
and things that are not so nice.
You might say enlightenment is all about light and sunshine.
It also casts some shadows.
And when you look at those shadows, you look at what's
under the rocks of the Enlightenment;
you start to find some things that aren't so nice.
One of them I pointed out.
Tony Morrison calls the Enlightenment,
"The age of scientific racism,"
in which scientific arguments were made to justify slavery
because blacks and other people of color were thought
to be somehow inferior to whites.
And there are other things as well.
You know, the Enlightenment doesn't give equal time
or consideration to women.
That's something that needs to get worked out.
And even beyond that we might say this,
if we are betting everything now on human consciousness,
if we are relying less on providential outcomes,
what happens if human beings
and human consciousness are not all they are cracked up to be?
right away, when things went bad for the Puritans, they knew,
"Okay wait a minute; this is part of God's plan.
It's kind of a hiccup on the road to the Second Coming,
or we're being punished, but we're still God's chosen.
So we understand that.
Our place is secure."
History is secure, and it has an endpoint.
But with the rise of deism and other kinds
of enlightenment approaches to religion, you might say
that assured outcome is no longer there
or what the endpoint is, is
that people are no longer convinced about it.
All right.
If Revelation is only one way of having truth,
you might say there are a lot of other possibilities
for understanding how progress might unfold.
Progress becomes increasingly secular in conception,
rather than sacred in the way it was to the Puritans.
So what if human beings
and their consciousness are not all they're cracked
up to be, all right.
I mean we already know that the conscious mind - we can -
we know that now post-Freud in a certain way.
But even then, people would think the conscious mind isn't
always in control.
What happens when you dream?
What happens when people go mad?
What happens when you dream and go mad as you'll see
in the weekend with Edgar Huntly.
All right.
So that's part of what we want to be thinking about now
and part of what romanticism addresses.
The part of romanticism that we will call gothic addresses those
negative things, those dark things, the idea of madness
and criminality, the kind of demonic sides
of consciousness, directly.
But even a romantic poet such as Wadsworth or Coleridge
or in our context Freneau or Bryant are thinking
about the account of the minds that the enlightenment gives
and finding it a little bit thin or impoverished.
Enlightenment, in other words, is staking a lot
on the idea of reason.
Well again, what if reason is not all it's cracked up to be.
More than that though, even if reason is all it's cracked
up to be, isn't there something dry about reason
or doesn't it miss something that is
at the heart of creativity.
So as the songs that I played at the beginning
of the hour might suggest, there is another idea
that the romantic thinkers come up with.
And that is the idea of imagination.
It goes, sometimes, under the name of fancy.
Some romantic thinkers
like Holdridge [assumed spelling] will try
to make distinction between fancy and imagination,
but we might think of them as roughly synonymous.
Fancy, imagination as trying to understand a faculty
of human thinking that is linked to creativity
that you might say, for them, goes further than reason,
gets at things about humanity
that reason doesn't cover completely.
So that's part of the critique of the enlightenment
that the romantics are offering.
So it's kind of a double-pronged critique.
One is reason alone isn't enough because it doesn't account
for things that inspire human creativity and poetry,
and the other is reason alone is really not enough
because it's flawed.
It doesn't control as much as we would hope it does.
So to stake everything on the primacy of reason is
to make a really big mistake.
Okay. Let's start with Barlow
because Barlow is an interesting figure for us.
Again, we were talking about certain figures
who span these intellectual developments.
All right, we talked about Edwards as both a Puritan
and a man of the enlightenment and also as a kind
of proto-romantic thinker.
Barlow's career follows something
of that trajectory as well.
Barlow, as I think I mentioned quickly last time,
was someone who had originally been drawn
to the thought of Jonathan Edwards.
He thought he was, you know, going to follow Edwards
in his Calvinist thinking.
He went to Yale, as Edwards did.
He wrote the early commencement poem.
One of his early poems is a commencement poem written in,
yes, 1778 for Yale, and it was called "The Prospect of Peace."
But then he changes.
Like Edwards, he comes under the sway of the Enlightenment.
He renounces the kind of form of congregationalism
that he subscribed to before for a form of deism.
Remember I said, deism thinking about God being manifest
in the world through what we can observe,
not primarily though scripture.
And in tuning to deism, he turns to a set of other ideas as well
that have to do with many of the principles that I laid
out as being central to the Enlightenment,
the ideas of liberty and fraternity and particularly,
you might say, a conception of the free market as a way
of guaranteeing both individual rights and, through a sense
of mutual obligation, the possibility of peace.
One of the main inspirations for Barlow, as for both so sweetly,
was Alexander Pope, again who is kind of a grandfather
of neo-classicism, I suppose.
And in particular, Barlow was drawn to one of Pope's poems
which was called "Windsor Source."
It's quite a long poem, but this little excerpt, I think,
will give you a sense of what lies at the heart of the poem.
Pope imagines the Themes, the River Themes,
because of its connection to the oceans as something
that can tie England to the rest of the world
and through England's preeminence in navies
and in shipping, would make England a force for peace,
right, primarily through creations of systems
of economic obligation.
That would mean that countries that are trading
with one another wouldn't want to be warring with one another.
So this is a passage from Pope: "The time shall come when free
as Caesar wind and bounded Themes shall flow
for all mankind.
Whole nations enter with each swelling tide and seize
but join the regions they divide.
Earth's distant ends our glory shall behold,
and the New World launch forth to seek the old.
Oh stretch thy reign fair peace from shore to shore,
'til conquests cease and slavery be no more."
And I think in this context we would say that the New World,
in his conception, is actually England compared
to the Old World of the east and the ancients.
Barlow will see the New World in rather different terms, right.
For one thing, he gets really taken by the ideas
of the French Revolution and ends up spending time in France
and becoming a diplomat in France.
And one of the things he realizes the French Revolution
does is transform the United States.
Instead of being the newest nation in the world,
it's the oldest practicing democracy, right.
So it becomes a way to use the United States as a kind
of template for the French Revolution.
And with that, he writes this poem, "The Hasty Pudding."
And "The Hasty Pudding" really is, you might say,
a way of thinking about the relationship between Old World,
so for him Europe is the Old World not the new,
Old World poetic forms and the possibilities of the New World.
What does the New World present to the poet?
I said last time that, you know, people complain about this.
Keats can't write "Ode to a Nightingale" in the New World
because there aren't nightingales.
Later on, you'll find Charles Brockton Brown in the preface
to "Edgar Huntly" saying we don't have this old tradition
of castles and aristocracy and ghosts,
you know, all that kind of.
The things that would seem to be the prerequisites
for gothic fiction, they're not here in the United States.
So how are we supposed to write gothic fiction?
And that becomes a larger project.
How are we supposed to do poetry in this New World,
when all of the familiar poetic forms, all the stock devices,
the long heritage that we have are here.
For people like Barlow and Brown,
this actually becomes a kind of opportunity, right.
We don't have to be bound as much by the old.
So what Barlow does is he takes a template,
let's call it neoclassicism.
Let's call it further the kind of mock epic, the mock epic
that is most famously embodied in the English tradition
by Pope's "Rape the Lock" about a lock of hair.
He combines that, you might say, with a sense of the pastoral,
which comes from Dryden's translation of the Georgics.
He puts this together and takes up a New World theme,
and this is what he starts with in "The Hasty Pudding."
He has a preface here in which he tells you the general setting
for it.
It's written in 1793 in the Savoy, and he eats something
in this restaurant, and it's like an early version
of Pruce Madeline [phonetic].
It all of a sudden recalls home for him.
And this happens to be the hasty pudding.
But look at the way he begins it.
Okay, this is the very beginning of "The Hasty Pudding."
"Ye out salacious through the heavens that rise
to cramp the day and hide me from the skies.
Ye Gallic slags that o'er their heights unfurled bear death
to kings and freedom to the world.
I sing not you.
A softer theme I choose, a virgin theme unconscious
of the muse, but fruitful rich while suited to inspire,
the purest frenzy of poetic fire."
Okay. Let's put on our close readers hats for a minute.
What do we notice about just these lines?
First thing we might want to track is line length,
rhyme scheme, some of the easy stuff, and then beyond that.
So stanchion, anything to note?
[ Inaudible audience comment ]
>> All right, but before you get to that since that's even harder
than the thing I'm asking.
Tell me about the form.
Are these - anything interesting about the form or not?
>> How -
>> I'll come back.
If you don't want to do it, I'll let somebody else,
and I'll come back to you.
[ Inaudible audience comment ]
>> Okay, go ahead.
[ Inaudible audience comment ]
>> Yeah, it's basically standard stuff, right.
Rise, skies, furled, world, choose,
muse, inspire, fire, okay.
Anything else?
So the form of the poem is not gonna be an issue.
Because it's mock epic, it's gonna take place
in basically heroic couplets.
You'll notice that mostly they're end-stopped.
Not the first line, which is doing something
slightly different.
But otherwise, furled has a comma, world has a comma,
choose has a comma, muse has a comma, and again,
not the last line of this.
But for the most part,
you'll see that he's writing in this familiar.
So form is not going to be the issue here.
Well, take the form for granted.
We don't have to worry about it.
See that it works, okay.
Now what were you gonna say?
What do you see going on in here?
[ Inaudible audience comment ]
>> Okay. So we see allusions
to what we [inaudible] what we might call it,
Europe's imperial past, right.
But also, "Ye Gaelic flags
that o'er their heights unfurled bear death to kings
and freedom the world," to what is that an allusion?
It's 1793, right?
>> French Revolution.
>> Yeah, so it's the French Revolution.
So it's not really the imperial past,
but it's the recent political events of the French Revolution.
Those are set out for us in the first four lines,
and then there's a turnabout.
What's this device called in the context of this class?
[ Inaudible audience comment ]
>> That's right.
So "I sing not you," he lays out what he's not going to say.
You would argue about whether it's actually a para-ellipsis
because it's not the same structure as I don't need
to tell you that the midterm is coming up soon
so you better catch up on your reading, that kind of thing.
But it has the same effect, right.
All of this stuff is laid out for you and then "not," right.
But think about the effect of that.
You've spent - again, you can think about this in the same way
that I suggested to you, you read the "Day
of Doom" by Wigglesworth.
You spend 200-some odd lines talking about hellfire
and damnation and punishment,
and you get about six stanzas afterwards saying,
oh but you know nice, peace, heaven, right hand,
all that kind of stuff.
What are you going to remember?
So "Ye out salacious," right.
Politics, politics, politics,
not but you remember the politics.
This is kind of a way of framing this poem
as I'm not a political poem, right.
I mean the first four lines are about politics.
He says, "I sing not you," but you know it's a way of,
especially when you're reading and you can go back and reread.
The poet can't just take it back.
If the poet just didn't want to talk about it,
he wouldn't talk about it.
So there's a sense in which he's putting it up there,
taking it back rhetorically, but the impression is left.
So you might say the poem, despite is protestations,
is framed by the political.
Okay. There are other allusions too, though.
I mean what else is he signaling with those lines.
I mean, why would - you can say - he might argue,
'Well come on, I don't buy all that.
That's literary critic stuff.
I think that I didn't mean to say not political.
I just had to start this way because it sets me
in a certain tradition.'
That tradition would be?
"Arma virumque cano?"
does that ring a bell for anybody?
Anybody study Latin in high school or - so what is it?
>> Can you repeat the phrase?
>> "Arma virumque cano," I sing of arms and the man or of arms
and the man I sing or - what is it?
[ Inaudible audience comment ]
>> It's what?
[ Inaudible audience comment ]
>> Well yeah, I guess except the
"Iliad's" is Greek and that's Latin.
But who inherits the Iliad, yes.
It's the beginning of the Aeneid, right.
So that's exactly what he's - I mean this already becomes that.
The beginning of that is "Sing muse of the raphekilis," right.
So it's the same idea.
We're all singing here, but the particular, I sing,
I think is more invocation of Virgil, but in any case,
it is the invocation of the epic tradition except not.
Which means that it's also the invocation
of the mock epic tradition as we see in Pope, right.
So this is doing a bunch of heavy lifting.
It's setting up the genera of the poem,
which is going to be mock epic.
And it's setting up a way of thinking about the poem.
The poem is in fact, I'd suggest to you, actually going
to have a political subtext or a way
of being read politically even though it's ostensibly
about cooking.
"A softer theme I choose, a virgin theme unconscious
of the muse," and again think back to Bradstreet, right.
I'm not writing poetry.
I'm not writing epic.
I'm doing what I do, and I should get, you know,
thyme leaves for my crown if I do this well.
Parsley, my domestic things.
"That fruitful rich while suited to inspire, the purest frenzy
of poetic fire," so I think what he's trying to suggest here is
that there is something new here.
It's a virgin theme.
He doesn't know all the stuff about the muse,
but that doesn't mean it's unrelated to poetic fire.
There's even a sense that, you know,
all this muse business has kept us from thinking.
We're so preoccupied by the whole discourse of the muse
that we actually don't do real poetry anymore.
Maybe you come to the New World, you find something
that is fruitful, rich, well suited to inspire.
The purest frenzy as if there was something impure
about this whole Old World tradition that's being
invoked there.
So this is the way that Barlow does it.
Now that doesn't mean - I mean this is one of the poems
by Barlow that we still read.
The other one we're going to read in a few minutes.
Because he wrote some other stuff, that frankly,
you don't want to read.
In the sense that, it isn't as playful this way.
He writes this as a mock epic, but he actually wrote epics.
He wrote something called "The vision of Columbus," and then
as if that weren't stately enough, he transformed it into
"The Columbiad," and you really don't want to read.
It's just a lot of this without the kind of wit.
There's a certain way in which it's straight-up neoclassicism
and quite pious even in its adoption
of the neoclassical machinery to do the work
of creating a public poetry that celebrates the founding
of the United States, all this kind of stuff.
There's a certain way in which we like this better as critics
because it has this more playful feeling
and it doesn't take itself quite as seriously.
And therefore, it rises to a level of self-consciousness
that those more overtly epic poems don't.
and there's a sense in which this humbleness
in this political context is also a political statement,
It's a statement in favor of democracy
as opposed to the kings.
Freedom to the world is going to be stressed but not
through the violence of the French Revolution,
through something else, right.
Through, you might say, the honesty of the Yankee.
Yankee food is good food 'cause it's not,
well as he says here, vicious.
Okay, so if we have here like kind
of the European poetic tradition.
This is the European culinary tradition in his account.
"To mix the food by viscous rules of art,
to kill the stomach and to sink the heart."
Maybe he's thinking about English food,
could even be French food, you know,
with all that heavy cream and sauces.
"To kill the stomach and to sink the heart to make mankind
to social virtues sour cream o'er each dish
and be what they devour,
for this the kitchen muse first framed her book,
commanding sweat to stream from every cook,
children no more their antic gambles tried,
and friends to physic wonder why they died.
Not so the Yankee, his abundant feast with simples furnished
and with plainness dressed,
a numerous offspring gathers 'round the board,
and cheers alike the servant and the lord," right,
no this isn't political at all.
"Whose well bought hunger prompts the joyous taste,
and health attends them from the short repast."
Okay. So I see a lot of rhymes and it's unclear whether some
of them were actually pronounced differently back in the day.
You can see here that this is not really
about cooking and dishes.
It's really about a number of things.
It's about democracy as opposed to European forms
of aristocratic and royal organization.
It's also about art, right.
Viscous rules of art in the Old World,
nice abundant feasts, simple, plain.
Although again, this is anything but plain, right.
So what you can see is he's taking this kind
of Old World poetic machinery and running the kind
of New World materials through it and in a kind of jokey way.
So, you know, fine.
It's not - it's unconscious of the muse,
but okay, we'll play along.
We'll invoke the muse.
"Assist me," he says, "first with pious toil to trace
through wrecks of time, thy lineage
and thy race," all right.
He's talking to that hasty pudding as if it's the muse.
"Declare what lovely squaw in days
of yore e're great Columbus sought thy native shore,
first gave thee to the world, her works of fame,
have live indeed but live without a name,
some tawny series, goddess of her days, first learned
with stones to crack the well-dried maize."
Now that's a small thing, you might say, but there is a kind
of invocation of a pre-Columbian,
pre-European tradition.
And I think in the context of the poem, it's suggesting
that there is something about the New World
that we should celebrate that doesn't come out of the things
that the Europeans brought to it.
This is a little bit later on in the poem, right.
You might say Europe may be first in poetry, for now,
but America is first in all this lovely, well, corn.
And you therefore give, the corn has a lot
of different names for it here.
And there's a certain - well let me just read it to you,
"But man were fickle the bold license claims,
in different realms to give thee different names,
thee the soft nations 'round the warm lament,
polentacal [phonetic]," the French of course polenta.
"Even in thy native regions how I blush
to hear the Pennsylvanians call thee mush,
on Hudson's banks while men of bilge expawn insult and eat thee
by the name suppon, ausperious Appalachians void of truth,
I've better known thee from my earliest youth.
Thy name is hasty pudding."
So again, we have some of the idea of naming that comes along
with discovery narratives, right.
And that's part of what Barlow is invoking for us as well,
this idea of a kind of truthfulness in American forms
of naming as opposed to all of these other less-truthful names.
So one of the things I want to suggest to you is
that Barlow is very carefully thinking about language
and about naming and about the uses of language.
He's even picking, you might say, neoclassical devices
that are suited for this particular theme, right.
And again, I suggested to you that it's drawn from, in part,
not only Pope's mock epic, "The Rape of the Lock," but Virgil's
"Georgics," which had been recently translated
by Dryden and was well known.
So there are moments in the poem where you can say
if the poem takes itself seriously it's not really
in the political moments.
It's more in the moments that seem to come
out of a straight-up kind of pastoral tradition,
and it's those moments that give a kind of gravity to the whole
of the poem, so that it's not simply just a mock epic, right.
So these lines could well come
out of Dryden's translation of the "Georgics."
"Slow springs the blade while checked by chilling rains.
E'er yet the sun the seed of cancer gains,
but when his fiercest fire emblazed the land,
then start the juices then the roots expand, then like a column
of Corinthian mold, the stalk struts upward
and the leaves unfold.
The busy branches all the ridges fill, entwine their arms
and kiss from hill to hill."
So one of the things I want us to see is, again,
it's not a complete rejection of the European.
It's a kind of appropriation of the European and a sort
of fitting it to American models.
Even to suggest that there's something revivifying
about the American context.
Neoclassiscm won't be dead
if it can take American matters as a subject, right.
So again, you can see there's a kind
of symbiotic relationship here between the matter and the form.
And the poetic tradition is not entirely being repudiated.
It's just being put to a new purpose, we might say.
And in the end, the whole thing is kind of an affectionate joke,
but yet, we take it seriously in part because of moments
like this which strike us as kind of real pastoral poetry.
This is, you know, most of Barlow looks like this.
His last poem is written in 1812,
which is the last year of his life.
And it's, therefore, almost roughly contemporary
with the defense of Fort McHenry.
But it's rather different in its approach to the Enlightenment.
I said that part of what inspired Barlow was a sense
of possibilities through economic interdependence,
right, peace through trade.
But that's not what happens to the French Revolution,
and Barlow like many romantic thinkers later on -
people like Wordsworth and Coleridge had been inspired
by the French revolution, only to be disappointed to find
that it quickly turns into something else.
It quickly turns into the kind of tyranny they thought
of Napoleon, and Barlow experienced the same thing.
And so he writes his last poem "Advice to a Raven in Russia"
when he's on a diplomatic mission to talk to Napoleon
after he's been appointed Minister to France
by James Madison the previous year.
And he's sort of chasing after Napoleon in Europe.
Napoleon's war effort isn't going so well.
He's planning his invasion of Russia.
Napoleon wants to stall negotiations with America.
So he puts Barlow off, finally lets Barlow come in 1812.
But he says, I'm going to meet you in Poland.
And before he could get to Poland in November of 1812,
he finds out that the Russian invasion hasn't gone well
and that Napoleon is already beating a retreat to Poland.
So he imagines what the battlefield looks
like after Napoleon has left it.
And if Barlow is talking to the hasty pudding
in "The Hasty Pudding" here he's addressing another part
of nature, and it's far more savage, right.
It's the raven.
"Black fool why winter here, these frozen skies worn
by your wings and deafened by your cries should warn you hence
where milder suns invite and day alternates
with his mother night.
You fear perhaps your food will fail you there,
your human carnage, that delicious fare,
that lured you hither following still your friend,
the great Napoleon to the world's bleak end."
And again, the style is fairly standard iambic pentameter
in rhyming couplets, but the tone is really different.
"Fear not," a few lines later, "my screamer,
call your greedy train, sweep over Europe hurry back to Spain.
You'll find his legions there, the valiant crew,
please best their master when they toil for you,"
right in other words when they're producing dead bodies.
The more you kill the happier Napoleon is
and the more food there is for the raven.
"Abundant there," see that word abundant again, right.
But it's a radically different context here.
"Abundant there they spread the country o'er,
and taint the breeze with every nation's gore."
And again, read this back against the earlier poem,
that other passage I put
up where hasty pudding has all these names
and there's a kind of list.
Here, there's a list, but it's put
to a different kind of purpose.
"And taint the breeze with every nation's gore, Iberian, Lucian,
British widely strewn, but still more wide
and copious flows their own," right.
There's a kind of savagery to the imagery here,
and it's the side, you might say, of real disillusionment.
And this is really - this is kind
of at the heart of the poem.
This, you might say, is a moment of self consciousness
in which Barlow comes very close to repudiating everything
that he previously thought about the possibility of peace
through mutual economic obligation because what he comes
up here is with an image of mutuality.
People serving one another's interests except this Napoleon
the butcher serving the interests
of the raven scavengers.
"Fear nothing then, hedge fast your ravenous brood,"
little pun, "teach them to cry to Bonaparte for food.
They'll be like you of all his suppliant train, the only class
that never cries in vain," right.
The only class.
"Foresee what mutual benefits you lend, the surest way
to fix the mutual friend.
While on his slaughtered troops your tribes are fed,
you cleanse his camp and carry off the dead."
That's mutual obligation for you, but it's a rather dark kind
of mutual obligation as if Napoleon only cares
about killing and not at all about the other ideals
that supposedly motivated the enlightenment.
And then there is the kind of wonderful imagery
that Barlow comes up with to kind of seal the deal
and fix it in your memory.
"Imperial scavenger but now you know,
you work is vain amid these hills of snow.
His tentless troops are marbled through with frost and changed
to crystal when the breath is lost.
Mere trunks of ice, though limbs like human framed
and lately warmed with life's endearing flames."
Does anybody remember what comes next, what the next image is?
"They cannot taint the air, the world impest,
nor can you tear one fiber from their breast.
No, from their visual sockets as they lie, with beak
and claws you cannot pluck an eye.
The frozen orb preserving still its form, defies your talons
as it braves the storm.
But stands and stares to God as if to know,
in what cursed hands he leaves his world below."
Close your eyes.
Think about the image.
Corpse, lying, looking up with eyes wide open
to God, frozen solid.
The raven on his face, plucking at the eye with claws and beak
and talons and can't get the eye out.
That's the image.
So it's a radically different kind of image
of the relationship between human beings and nature.
The only way, Barlow says at the end of the poem,
for this situation to change is this,
"'til men resume their soles and dare
to shed Earth's total vengeance on the monster's head.
Hurl from his blood-built throne, this king of woes.
Dash him to dust and let the world repose."
Barlow doesn't live to see this, actually.
I think he catches pneumonia on the battlefield and ends
up dying before he can actually meet Napoleon.
So one of the things we might say is
that Barlow explores what's under the rocks
of the Enlightenment and of Neoclassicism.
There's a kind of optimism in "The Hasty Pudding,"
but politics and other kinds of context interfere
with the achievement of his vision.
The promise of the French Revolution is dashed.
And that has a profound effect on Romanticism, all right.
And I think we want to bear that in mind.
Barlow, in other words, starts to explore the dark side
of Enlightenment thought, and you should keep this image
in mind, especially maybe, tearing fibers, yeah,
tearing fibers when you read Edgar Huntly.
[Inaudible] to bear in mind.
Okay. One of the things that we might say then is that Barlow
in this final poem, imagining all these bodies there
and the raven trying to clean the bodies of flesh
and being unable to, as if these bodies have become kind
of marble monuments, right.
He uses that phrase marbleized.
Is to think of this poem as kind of a larger grouping
of poems that's well known in the English tradition
as the graveyard school of poetry.
There was a fascination in the later part of the 18th century
with graves and churchyards and castles
and basically the gothic.
People used to build little gardens that had grottos
and things that had these kind of morbid sensibility behind it.
But this was inspiring to the romantics in part
because these places became kind of scenes
where you can imagine contemplation
and where you could think self-consciously
about the purposes of your life
because you're contemplating the end of your life.
Graveyard school of poetry, here are some famous poems
in the graveyard tradition.
Maybe this one is the one that gets in to Brit Lit, maybe 2,
beginning of Brit Lit 2.
Anybody read Gray's Elegy?
There's the first four lines of Gray's Elegy.
"The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
blowing herd wind slowly o'er the lay.
The plowman homeward plods his weary way and leaves the world
to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape of the sight
and all the air of solemn stillness holds.
Say where the beetle wheels his droning flight
and drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds."
What's going on in those lines?
He's creating a certain set of poetic effects.
What might they be?
I guess I didn't read it with enough emphasis.
Let's see.
Okay. So you know rhyme, we get the rhyme, right, AB, AB.
Okay. So again it's gonna be, for the most part,
fairly standard rhyme.
But look at all the L sounds.
Tolls and knell, lowing herd, lay,
there's a kind of liquidity to it.
There's a sense of lulling you.
I mean part of the way in which he creates the feeling
of silence and quiet, the elegiac feeling is created
in part through the consonants that he uses
and repeats throughout these first few lines.
And then finally, "Beneath those rugged elms that you trees shade
where heaves the turf in many a moldering keep,
each in his narrow self forever laid the rude forefathers
of the hamlet sleep."
Okay, I don't want to do a lot with this particular poem other
than to suggest that it is a pattern for the poem
by Phillip Freneau that I asked you to look at for this time,
which is called "The Indian Burying Ground."
I think I put a slide up.
Yeah. Let's just - how long is this thing?
Yeah, all right.
We'll just read it.
It's in your book.
It's page 742.
>> 745.
>> Yeah, so take a look at it there on 745
or up here, as you prefer.
"In spite of all the learned have said,
I still my old opinion keep; the posture that we give the dead,
points out the soul's eternal sleep.
Not so the ancients of these lands - The Indian,
when from life released, again is seated with his friends,
and shares again the joyous feast.
His imaged birds, and painted bowl, and venison,
for a journey dressed, bespeak the nature of the soul,
activity, that knows no rest.
His bow, for action ready bent, and arrows,
with a head of stone, can only mean that life is spent,
and not the old ideas gone.
Thou, stranger, that shalt come this way,
no fraud upon the dead commit, observe the swelling turf,
and say, they do not lie, but here they sit.
Here, still a lofty rock remains,
on which the curious eye may trace, now wasted half
by wearing rains, the fancies of a ruder race.
Here, still an aged elm aspires,
beneath whose far-projecting shade
and which the shepherd still admires,
the children of the forest played.
There oft a restless Indian queen, pale Marian,
with her braided hair and many a barbarous form is seen
to chide the man that lingers there.
By midnight moons, o'er moistening dews inhabit
for the chase arrayed, the hunter still the deer pursues,
the hunter and the deer, a shade.
And long shall timorous fancy see the painted chief
and pointed spear, and reason's self shall bow the knee
to shadows and delusions here."
All right.
What do we make of this?
I mean if you look back at this, right, in Gray,
"the rude forefathers of the hamlets sleep," all right.
So we're thinking about the past
of this particular place, this hamlet.
"Each in his narrow cell forever laid."
And that's immediately what's being evoked Freneau's poem
by contrast, right.
"The posture that we give the dead, here figured
as a narrow cell forever laid,
points out the soul's eternal sleep.
The ancients of this land," so like Barlow, he's thinking
about the possibilities for, you might say, poetic invention
that might come from an acknowledgement of the culture
that was here before the Europeans.
"Not so the ancients of this land,
would form from life's roots is seated with his mutual friends
and shares again the joyous feast.
His imaged birds and painted bowl and venison
for all eternity dressed bespeak the nature of the soul,
activity that knows no rest."
So this is a kind of, again in a slightly different way
than Barlow, it's more contemplative
and in some sense it's quieter and less showy,
less use of poetic forms.
Like "The Hasty Pudding" it's making a plea, you might say,
on behalf of American materials
over against the European tradition, and I'd suggest
to you, over against the Enlightenment.
Right. I mean you might see echoes
of Keats later poem in here, right.
[Inaudible] of the "Ode in a Grecian Urn" it's that same idea
of freezing something in place and thinking about it,
thinking about it and thinking about how it lasts for eternity.
Here it's not an artwork that's lasting for eternity,
but you might say - or you might say the whole effect,
the whole burial, becomes a kind of aesthetic effect for him.
But here, look at these words,
"Long shall timorous fancy see the painted chief
and pointed spear and reason's self shall bow the knee
to shadows of delusions here."
Right. So one of the reasons that you're attracted
to the graveyard, to the burying ground,
is because it's not in the city.
It's not in normal life, you might say.
It's not in the world of politics and economics.
It's something else, and it's a place
where reason does not hold sway.
In the same way that you would say part of the reason
that we're trying to develop something
that will later be called romanticism is because it points
out the limitations of reason.
Here, in the burying ground, poetry takes root
because reasoned self has to bow the knee to something else.
Maybe shadows and delusions aren't so bad.
I mean I started pitching those things to you as problems
with enlightenment thought, right.
Shadows, all the things on the negative side, what the sunshine
of enlightenment thinking creates as its kind of residue.
Delusions, madness, yeah,
but maybe there's something freeing about that.
If we're tyrannized by reason, maybe we're damming
up creativity, and that's exactly what he means
by this phrase "timorous fancy,"
fancy that's been afraid to assert itself.
In "The Indian Burying Ground," and I would suggest
in the Americas more generally, fancy can create a new space.
It becomes a new place where poetry can take root.
So that this poem belongs to this graveyard school,
but again, it's taking the principles
of the graveyard school and applying them
to American materials.
William Cowen Bryant writes perhaps the most famous
of these graveyard poems in the American context.
And he is deliberately drawing on the work
of William Wordsworth, right.
So Bryant, and again this is all roughly the same time.
This is Wordsworth.
You can see that Wordsworth is a slightly older poet.
And his work is known to Bryant when Bryant is a teenager.
Wordsworth writes this.
People have read that preface to the
"Second Edition of Lyrical Ballads"?
I mean it's taken to be one of the great statements
of English Romantic poetic principles.
And there he talks about what it was he was trying to do
in his poetry, all right.
He says, "The principle object proposed in these poems,"
which the collection that he put together
with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "was to choose incidents
and situations from common life
and so were later describe them throughout in far as possible
in a selection of language really used by men.
And at the same time to throw over to them a certain coloring
of imagination whereby ordinary things should be presented
to the mind in an unusual aspect."
Again, this is Wordsworth programs.
Coleridge's program is a little bit different.
But people take this to be the statement
of standard English romantic poetics.
Take a look at these lines, right.
"The language really used by men," as opposed to what?
The artifice of neoclassical poetry or of the kind
of fancy writing that's meant to be read rather
than led aroud [phonetic] that you would see in someone
like Johnson or maybe
in the essayists Addison and Steele, right.
Something really common, what we really would hear as language
and yet, of course, it's not gonna be just transcribed.
We're gonna do something to it because of course we're poets
and we need a reason for being.
So we're going to throw to them a certain color
of the imagination, right.
The thing that Freneau evokes, fancy,
that's what Wordsworth is evoking as well, imagination.
"And further above all to make these incidents and situations
by tracing in them truly, though not ostentatiously,
the primary laws of our nature."
So they're meant to be representative as well.
So he says, "the language too of these men has been adopted,
purified indeed from what appeared to be its real defect
from all lasting and rational causes of dislike or disgust
because such men hourly communicate with the best
of objects from which the best part
of language is originally derived," right.
Again, think of the resonances back to Barlow.
There's something honest
about the way we name things here in the America.
There's something honest about our feast compared to all
that fancy stuff that's gonna give you a stomachache
from Europe, right.
We, these men - you might say
that what Barlow says America can do, Wordsworth is saying
by looking at common people.
Stuff that is not necessarily thought to be poetic stuff,
so we can do that same sort of thing.
It's a kind of common project.
Wordsworth is trying to do it back in England.
It's again, the idea of, he wouldn't call it democracy
in the English context, but it's the idea of looking
at the people that are not high born for inspiration.
He says, "I had wished to keep the reader in the company
of flesh and blood, persuaded there
by so doing I shall interest him.
Others who pursue a different tact will interest him likewise.
I do not interfere with their claim,
but wish to proffer a claim of my own."
All right.
I'll give you these quotes to remind you.
But that's the idea behind Wordsworth, right.
There wills be found in these lines little
of what is usually called poetic diction, although clearly it's,
again, not just transcribed.
So there is poetic diction there.
It's just not poetic diction as normal.
He's gonna take this language,
run it through the poet's imagination and come
up with a poetic language that's never -
gonna give the appearance
of being somehow more natural and less artificial.
Bryant takes Wordsworth's principles to heart.
In fact when Oliver Wendell Holmes heard this poem, he said,
"That's never been written on this side of the Atlantic,"
as if to suggest that this is a new thing.
And in America, romanticism comes a little bit later.
It starts later on.
I mean it's well underway by the time Bryant writes this,
well underway in England.
So one of the things that Bryant does here immediately is
to start to do some different stuff.
Rhyme scheme?
What's the rhyme scheme?
There is no freakin' rhyme scheme; it's blankworth,
but it's still iambic pentameter.
What is it?
Can somebody read the first two lines for me?
Come on. Read those lines.
[ Inaudible audience comment ]
>> Very good.
Now scan them.
[ Inaudible audience comment ]
>> Okay. Wait a minute.
So what is that?
I heard it in your - to him who in the love of na-ture holds.
How many feet?
To him who in the love of na...
>> Five.
>> Five feet so it's pentameter,
and what are they, duh-duh, uh-uh...
>> Iambic.
>> Okay good.
Next line.
[ Inaudible audience comment ]
>> Okay, hold on.
Com-mu where would you put the stress?
Co-mu, that's what you said.
So foot there.
Okay. So where would the second foot be?
That was a hint?
[ Inaudible audience comment ]
>> Okay, there's a problem in this line, right.
If it were Gray doing this, he would do this
"He de-lie the extra eye."
Communion with her visible form she speaks.
I mean that scans into standard iambic pentameter.
This doesn't work quite so well.
All right, one trips over it.
So to him who in the love of nature holds.
Gray would do it this way.
Communion with her vis'ble forms she speaks,
standard iambic pentameter.
First line, standard iambic pentameter.
Second line, not so much.
Now, you know, the professor is reading in again, right.
No. This is a trisyllabic foot.
Communion with her visible forms she speaks.
And later Bryant writes that - if you think I'm just joking,
Bryant later writes an essay that's called "On the use
of trisyllabic feet in English meter,"
in which he says the poet should be free to break the strictures
of iambic pentameter if he helps him to either create an effect
of naturalness or to create an effect of - to say things
that he wouldn't be able to say, right.
So it's almost as if you imagine it this way.
He's writing this poem.
It's word worthy and it's in blank verse.
First line says I know how to do it.
Second line says I'm not always gonna do it that way.
And I think that's deliberately there
in the second line of this poem.
So one of the things we might say about Bryant is that in
that early poem he is trying to, in some sense,
create a new program for an American poetry,
one that's gonna be based in Wordsworth to a certain extent.
One that is going to use language that is more free.
It's not gonna be bound by rhyme scheme.
It's not even gonna be bound by the strict necessity
of neoclassical metrical regularity.
It will break decorum periodically.
And if you remember what the poem is about,
it's also about creating a kind of thinking about a kind
of communal experience, right.
It's about death.
"Thanatopsis" is a meditation on death.
So the idea is to think about communal experience but to use
that form of communal experience to develop a kind
of more individualized idiosyncratic, poetic voice.
So you might say the syntax and the diction are going
to be more individualized.
The theme is communal, and that's one way
in which Bryant solved the problem
of how do you do what Samuel Johnson called "getting
at the species as well as the individual," right.
Individualized voice talking
about a larger theme that's common to all of us
and telling us not to worry about death.
So that's his solution to it.
Now as I said to you, Wordsworth is only one half of the big two
of the first generation of English Romantic Poetics,
and Samuel Taylor Coleridge is the other one.
So if Bryant comes from the Wordsworth line,
the Coleridge line in the United States might be said
to spawn Edgar Allen Poe.
And here's what my once - well, one colleague of mine -
people know who Harold Bloom is?
Harold Bloom, okay.
So Harold Bloom mostly associated with Yale University,
writes this about Poe.
[Inaudible] he writes the western cannon
and all those volumes of essays taken [inaudible] places telling
you what to think about things and how to rank them.
And he's kind of interested in ranking.
So 19th century American poetry is considerably better
than it is acknowledged to be.
There are no figures comparable to Whitman and Dickinson,
but at least a following are clearly preferable to Poe.
Oh, I think this is from the "New York Review of Books" essay
that I think was called "Woe to Poe."
In chronological order, Bryant, Emerson, Longfellow, Whittier,
Jones, Berry, Thoreau, Melville, Timrod, and Tuckerman.
Poe scrambles for twelfth place with Sidney Lanier,
whom we don't read anymore.
I do remember Sidney Lanier though because he was
on a stamp, back in the day when I was collecting stamps.
God knows when that was, many years ago now.
Yeah. So he doesn't like Poe.
Why? If this judgment seems too harsh or too arithmetical,
it is prompted by the continued French overvaluation
of Poe as a lyrist.
No reader who cares deeply for the best poetry written
in English can care greatly for Poe's verse.
Period. Glove thrown down.
You think you care about poetry, you can't like Poe.
You're a serious student of film.
You can't like "Avatar."
Vote for "The Hurt Locker."
Now Coleridge, right, and I want to suggest to you
that this is wrong, actually,
that Poe is doing interesting things with verse.
And a lot of it comes from the same inspiration
that comes with Coleridge.
Right. So if Coleridge is Wordsworth,
in the buddy-movie that's called 'English Romantic Poetry,
The early years," - yeah, maybe he'd be like, you know,
Eddie Murphy to Nick Nolte, Wordsworth's Nick Nolte.
Or I don't know what are other - I'm trying to think what
that other new one is, Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan.
Is that right?
>> Yeah.
[ Inaudible audience comment ]
>> What is that?
>> John Bell.
>> All right.
Anyway, Coleridge says this, "My endeavor should be directed
to persons and characters supernatural."
All right, so if Wordsworth is trying to take the ordinary
and see what's interesting or extraordinary about it,
Coleridge in some sense is trying to look
for extraordinary experiences, moments that seem to break
out of normal experience and find what is ordinary
within them or bring them down to Earth
or make them comprehensible.
Mr. Wordsworth on the other hand wants to pose himself
as his object to give the term of novelty
to the things of every day.
I mean you can just see it in the syntax there.
That charm of novelty that he thinks his project is kind
of the more interesting one.
All right, so here's Poe, character, and I think that's
from that same year the "Review of Books Article" actually.
Whoa. Oh, all right.
Yeah. So "The Raven," let's talk a little bit about "The Raven."
"The Raven" is an interesting poem because it sounds
so different from a poem like "Thanatopsis."
Let me just read you a little bit of it,
and then I think you'll hear it right away, right.
It's in the typical Poe form.
This is in volume two, I think.
So if you didn't bring it, just listen along.
I'm not gonna do a lot with it,
but once because I was a showoff, in like sixth grade,
I memorized this whole damn poem.
We were supposed to memorize poetries,
and I actually didn't know that it was gonna be performed.
We were supposed to do this particular reciting
on parent's day.
But it was, and I did, and it actually worked out well,
but I have this memory of in the middle of the week trying
to remember the silk and sad and certain rustling
of each purple curtain, in one of the rooms
in my parents' house that had a curtain
in it, very vivid memory.
Okay. "Once, upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak
and weary, over many a quaint and curious volume
of forgotten lore, while I nodded, nearly napping,
suddenly there came a tapping, as if someone gently rapping,
rapping at my chamber door.
'Tis some visitor I muttered, tapping at my chamber door.
Only this and nothing more.
Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
and each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon
the floor.
Eagerly, I wished the morrow; vainly I had tried to borrow
from my books, for cease of sorrow,
sorrow for the lost Lenore.
For the rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore,
nameless here forevermore.
And the silken sad uncertain rustling
of each purple curtain thrilled me,
filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before.
So that now, to still the beating of my heart,
I stood repeating, 'tis some visitor entreating entrance
at my chamber door, some late visitor entreating entrance
at my chamber door.
This it is and nothing more."
So you can hear the deliberate artifice of the rhyme.
There's a kind of cunning internal rhyme here
with stanzaic form is lengthened.
It sounds deliberately artificial.
It's everything you might say
that Wordsworth says you shouldn't do,
everything that you might say "Thanatopsis"
with its trisyllabic foot is setting itself against.
This is another possibility for poetic practice in this period.
And I want to say that I think this is deliberate.
This is what Poe is about.
Poe is about using language in ways that, in some sense,
in our context, we might think, go back to Edward Taylor, right.
Edward Taylor is using language that's difficult and sounds odd
in order to get at this thing that is difficult,
representing the divine or representing graves
or representing the incommensurability
of the human mind and the divine.
Poe was trying to get at stuff that resists representation too.
Madness, how do you represent madness with language?
One of the things that's great about a typical Poe story.
We don't do it this year.
[Inaudible] is a pity, but like "The Imp
of the Perverse," is barely a story.
All the action that's in that story has already happened.
This guy has committed the perfect murder.
The only way that he can possibly be caught,
and you just stipulate that.
You don't have to worry about that.
It's like the McGuffey.
Don't worry about it.
Perfect murder, only way that he can be caught is to confess.
No sooner does he think that then what does he want to do?
He wants to tell somebody.
He's dying to tell somebody.
He can't keep himself from telling anybody.
How do you get that across, right?
How do you get across that sense of madness?
The thing about Poe is that he uses deliberately
artificial language.
He uses language that is kind of heightened language
of the enlightenment precisely to show you what's wrong
with the language of the enlightenment.
You read a Poe thing, it's full of philosophical terms
or scientific terms at the very beginning
and a few paragraphs in, maybe even a few pages in,
you start to realize this narrator is barking mad.
Because now, he's matter of factly,
told us how he's just put a hammer in his wife's head
and buried her in the wall, and you know.
We'll get to that, okay.
So one of the things that I want to say is
that Poe is not original.
He claimed, in some sense -
or his originality is of a different kind.
He claimed in a piece that's in "The Norton" called
"The Philosophy of Composition,"
that no one had ever written anything like
"The Raven's" verse form before.
But well, "with a murmurous stir uncertain,
in the air the purple curtain swelleth in and swelleth
out around her motionless pale brows.
While the gliding of the river sends a rippling noise forever
through the open casement whitened
by the moon's slant repose."
It's not as good, in a certain way.
It's also [inaudible].
But it's, you know,
it's Elizabeth Barrette before she married Robert Browning.
So Poe has his sources, and there's a certain way
in which Poe is a big shyster, and he loves
to perpetrate certain kinds of literary and other hoaxes.
But he's also a serious critic, and part of what he was trying
to do in his writings as a critic is to try
to push this project that we're calling American Romanticism.
All right, so there is Poe the way he's more normally seen.
So I want to suggest that part of the artificiality that we see
in "The Raven" is what makes it so memorable.
I mean it's probably one of the most memorable poems.
When people hear it, they don't forget it.
It's one of the most well-known poems from the middle
of the 19th century, and it's precisely because of that sense
of artificiality trying to get at something else.
I mean it's an interesting exercise to compare
that to Jonathan Edwards and think of their use of repetition
and personal narratives.
I had a student do that once.
He decided finally that Edwards had to have been
on drugs of a certain kind.
And I said, you know, actually I think that's kind of right.
Although, he didn't inject anything
into himself or swallow anything.
It was a different kind of drugs.
This is Bloom on Poe.
Oh, by the way, I think he says, Bloom says,
that you know the French like Poe
because they read him in translation.
"Poe's survival raises perpetually the issue whether
literary merit and economical status necessarily go together.
I can think of no other American writer
down to this moment" this is the late '80,
"at once so inescapable and so dubious.
Mark Twain catalog Fennimore Cooper's literary offenses,
but all that he exuberantly listed are minor compared
to Poe's.
Allen Tate proclaiming Poe 'our cousin' in 1949 at the centenary
of Poe's death remarked, 'He has several styles
and it is not possible to damn them all at once.'
Uncritical admirers of Poe should be asked
to read his stories aloud but only to themselves."
Okay, he can write.
It's - "The association between the acting style
of Vincent Price," does that mean anything to anybody?
Yes? How - throw what is it - is it "Throne of Blood"?
Not "Throne of Blood" the one where he's the actor.
He kills all the critics.
Oh, I'll put it in the notes when I write the -
I can't remember the name of it.
It's really great.
There's all these critics.
He's a terrible actor, right.
There's all these critics
who have written terrible things about him.
So he takes revenge on all of them by killing them in ways
that are drawn from Shakespeare's play.
Oh, it's priceless.
And no doubt, streamable from Netflix.
Anyway, "The association between the active celebrants in Price
and styles of Poe is alas not gratuitous
and indeed is an instance of deep crying out unto deep,"
which is not very deep.
All right.
"Lest I be considered unfair," Bloom continues,
"by those devoted to Poe, I hasten to quote him
at his strongest as a storyteller.
Here is the opening paragraph of 'William Wilson" a tale admired
by Dostoyevsky and still central
to the great western [inaudible]."
And part of the why I asked you to read it.
Get a sense of the Poe style but also
because it introduces the idea of a double
or doppelganger, right.
In this case, a figure who seems
to be an emanation of the conscious.
And that, I think [phone rings] - I'm having one of those days.
That, I think, is a way that you ought to think
about Edgar Huntly, right.
Edgar Huntly becomes the story of a doppelganger.
It's before Poe, but if you read Wilson,
which is a simpler version of it,
I think you'll understand what's going on in Edgar Huntly better.
Okay. So here is "William Wilson"
on the "Topes of the Devil."
Okay, and this is the first paragraph, right.
"Let me call myself, for the present, "William Wilson".
The fair page lying before me need not be sullied
with my real appellation.
This has already been too much an object for the scorn,
for the horror, for the detestation on my ranks.
To the uttermost regions
of the globe have not indignant winds brooded its unparalleled
infamy, oh outcasts of all outcasts, most abandoned.
To the earth art thout not forever dead.
To its honors, to its flowers, to its golden aspirations,
and a cloud, dismal, dense, and limitless,
does not it hang eternally between thy hopes and heaven?"
All right.
Bloom says, "This rhetoric including the rhetorical
questions is British gothic rather
than German gothic [inaudible] Lewis rather [inaudible].
Its palpable squalors require no commentary.
Its palatable squalors [inaudible].
The critical question surely must be how does
"William Wilson" survive its bad writing.
Poe's awful diction, whether here or in the 'Fall
of the House of Usher' or the 'Purloined Letter' seems
to demand the decent masking of a competent French translation."
There you go.
"The tale somehow is stronger than its telling,
which is to say that Poe's actual text does not matter."
Again, I say this is completely wrong.
It's precisely - I mean there is something about Poe's story,
but it's exactly in the way that he tells it
that he creates the particular effects that he does, right.
Bloom wants to read Poe as if he's Oedipus or he's Sophocles
and Oedipus that the story somehow transcends the language.
I don't think that's exactly true.
And I think - he says, "What survives
as Poe's writing are the psychological dynamics
and mythic reverberations," blah, blah, blah.
"Poe can only gain by a good translation,
scarcely [inaudible] fully retells the stories
to one another."
So he wants to make Poe back into the oral tradition.
I think Odin [phonetic] had it more right on Poe.
"Poe is sometimes attacked," he says, "for the operatic quality
and decor in his tale."
And you can see that here right.
"Oh, to the earth art thou not forever dead.
To its honors, to its" - well no wonder this is William
Wilson's head.
Poe is trying to get across William Wilson's consciousness.
And I think for [inaudible] operatic is just right.
His heroes cannot exist except operatically.
And then he says, "Take for example this sentence from
"William Wilson"," right.
"Let it suffice that among [inaudible] out Heralded Herod,
and that giving name to any multitude
of novel follies I added no brief appendix
to the long catalog of vices than usual
in the most dissolute university of Europe, right."
Bloom would say that's terrible wordy - it's peripherousous.
It's wordy.
There is grandiosity.
And Odin would say exactly.
That is the way that you capture this kind of character.
This kind of character is captured by this language,
and it's irrational, and it's not reasonable language
precisely because what we're trying to get
at is the irrational and the not reasonable.
And again, this thinking about that will help you
to read Edgar Huntly over the weekend.
And so, Odin says, "In isolation is a prose sentence.
It is terrible, vague, verbose,
the sense at the mercy of rhetorical wisdom.
But dramatically, how right,
how well it reveals the William Wilson who narrates the story
in its real colors, as the fantastic self who hates
and refuses contact with reality."
So from William Wilson, we will take away the prose style,
but even more from Edgar Huntly the doppelganger and the double,
and I think I've left myself about six minutes,
which is a good thing.