POE POE POE POE POE POE POE by Daniel Hoffman

POE POE POE POE POE POE POE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Hoffman's study stalks around, or better among, the manifestations of Poe Poe Poe, etc., in a parody of Edgar's obsession and often of his style, to limn that mysterious mesmeric power that keeps boys cowering under their bedclothes and critics bent over their deskloads of largely detractive manuscripts. Just how mysterious that power is becomes clear as Hoffman admits charge after damning charge: yes, Poe was a bit of a crank with his tortures, decors, abortive transports, and his ""sybaritic luxury of sorrow""; yes, his poems' cardiac thumping rarely met the specifications of his criticism, which in any case was self-justifying and more than just indebted to Coleridge; and, yes, regardless what anyone says to the contrary, he often made a mess of the tribe's dialect. Flying in the face of his own pet aesthetic premise, Poe's works have an overwhelming disunity of effect or do they? Dozens of exegeses of poems, grotesques, arabesques, and the rest of Poe's genres, taken singly and mutually and in the light of the author's absurdly redundant sufferings (the death of a beautiful, beloved woman was the leitmotif of his life), gradually reveal a pattern too complex to be explained by mere neurotic fixation. Its key is the Imp of the Perverse, which Hoffman identifies as none other than Freud's Thanatos 75 years ahead of schedule. If he argues this with more than necessary care, his style is such that no one will mind and his thoroughness discloses unsuspected dimensions of Poe's thought -- especially in his reading of the neglected, psycho-cosmological Eureka. Poe it seems has finally found a champion equal to his maligners, and he stands certified once and for all as semblable and frere to us tormented, ratiocinative moderns.

Pub Date: Feb. 4th, 1971
ISBN: 0807123218
Publisher: Doubleday