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Title: Reflective operations in Edgar Allan Poe's transatlantic reception
Author: Filippakopoulou, Maria
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2003
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The thesis explores the literary reputation of Edgar Allan Poe by linking two separate moments of his reception: the one in mid-nineteenth-century French discourse and the other in early twentieth-century Anglophone criticism. These moments are illustrated, on the one hand, by the appropriation project of his translator, Charles Baudelaire, and, on the other, by the critical essays of William Carlos Williams, T. S. Eliot, and Aldous Huxley. The thesis builds a system of relations between these selected contexts by making the Baudelairean project the fulcrum of the Anglophone writings; these are considered to be an oblique, spill-over effect of his montage-piece which ennobled Poe aesthetically in European modernist contexts. The findings of textual analysis are pitted against one another so as to identify discursive instances of accord and departure in each critical account of the aesthetic value of Poe's work. The juxtaposition is used in order to bring about the transatlantic negotiation that takes place therein, but also the overdetermination that characterises the two opposing national repertories. Poignantly aware of the reinvented, French Poe, the Anglophone modernist writers responded by foregrounding linguistic nativity as an index of literariness: his worth, in other words, can only be decided by same-language readers. This primacy of linguistic nativity as a literary arbiter of taste is confirmed by Eliot and Huxley and debunked by Williams. Their attempt, however, is destabilised at the very moment when they integrate the French inscriptions into their narrative structures. The comparative perspective of the thesis establishes that every enactment of transatlantic opposition is bound to generate novel, unwarranted meanings which subtly escape the insular presuppositions of the writers by producing hybridity effects. Despite its symmetrical tidiness, the discussion reveals asymmetries of manipulation as soon as each account becomes a reflection of the others. In this light, the thesis attempts to illustrate the strategic role of comparativism as a tool of investigation that can help to transcend nation-centred constraints. By its very design, it advertises a conflation of 'content' and 'method,' made evident in its central hypothesis: the transatlantic semiosis of the figure of Poe was made available for further cultural use through a series of competing concentric discourses which were already corrupted by reflective operations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available