‘Metzengerstein’ (1832), ‘The Visionary’ (1834), ‘Berenice’ (1835), the Imagination, and Authorship‘s Perils
The fusion of Gothic and Eastern details, which one encounters in these stories, is obviously not original to Poe. William Beckford‘s Vathek, Charlotte Dacres Zofloya, and Byrons Eastern tales contain similar blends, but in ‘Metzengerstein’, ‘The Visionary’, and ‘Berenice’ Oriental and Gothic devices, especially the former, serve unique purposes. With these motifs, Poe continues his investigation of authorship, a theme animating his Poems (1831), in which Oriental devices also appear,with surprising frequency. Published shortly before Poe wrote ‘Metzengerstein’ this volume showcases verse dealing with the craft of writing and the nature of inspiration, and in several poems from this collection, ‘East’ and ‘West’ operate as metaphorical shorthand, with ‘East representing poetic genius and ‘West’ suggesting unimaginativeness. Middle-Eastern devices serve related purposes in #8216;Metzengerstein’, ‘The Visionary’, and ‘Berenice’, stories sharing thematic correspondences with the poems that preceded them. In particular, these tales evince Poe‘s anxieties about authorship, its demands, and its pitfalls. Throughout the narratives, Oriental machinery constitutes a network of symbols, collapsing complex ideas into compact metaphors, and with these devices, Poe imaginatively investigates the life of writing in nineteenth-century America, where professional writers struggled to satisfy a mass audience while following their own aesthetic inclinations. Such experiences no doubt proved ‘Gothic’ for these authors working in a society transformed by industrialization, a space where commercial trends impinged on creativity and threatened artistic freedom. Gothic fiction offered a proper vehicle for Poe‘s own anguished response to the challenges he and others faced while negotiating their conflicting roles as artists and professionals. For Poe, preserving the sanctity of the imagination, figuratively associated with the Middle East, was paramount, and ‘Metzengerstein’, ‘The Visionary’, and ‘Berenice’, all of which employ Gothic and Oriental devices, dramatize artistic failure, the betrayal of genius resulting in imaginative decay or death.
It is well known that anti-popery and anti-puritanism were central to the political culture of post-Reformation England and the early British empire. 1 We also know that from the later eighteenth century onwards, orientalism played a crucial role in debates about the British presence in South Asia and (later) the Middle East. 2 To an extent the via media of English Protestantism and the construction of the Orient serve, respectively, as ideological identifiers of the so-called first and second empires, or landmarks in the shift from West to East in British
I will read John Winthrop‘s Model of Christian Charity against and through Edgar Allan Poe‘s poem ‘The City in the Sea’. Winthrop and Poe both localize a ‘city’ to represent an extreme form of society. The koine Greek of Matthew 5 uses the word polis to describe a ‘city on a hill’. Christ says this city must not be hidden, but rather should shine so that the world may see it. The New Testament‘s merging of ‘politics’ and ‘city’ in the word polis makes it unsurprising that many Anglophone writers invoke ‘city’ in a title or phrase when making political innuendoes. Winthrop was a devotee of scripture, and Poe knew Greek, so their allusions to a representative human city are fraught with cultural meaning. To contextualize and compare their particular evocations of the city metaphor, I incorporate the theories of Edward Said and present cross-references to Eugène Delacroix, the prophecies of Ezekiel, and Shelley‘s poem ‘Ozymandias’. The Holy Land is at once fixed in the exotic Middle East yet necessary for America‘s quotidian social mores. Winthrop and Poe romanticize, appropriate, and exploit Middle Eastern symbolism. The interesting twist, however, is that Poe Orientalizes Winthrop‘s city on a hill, and in so doing, he Orientalizes Winthrop, and perhaps America‘s own religious fanaticism.
Best known as a historian of England and Europe, Freeman had an enduring interest in the Orient which has been largely overlooked by modern scholars. Writing in 1877, Freeman reflected that he had ‘read, thought, and written’ about the East ‘for many years’ and that the subject had been ‘through life my chief secondary object of study’. 1 As noted in the Introduction, Freeman became aware of Oriental history when he read William Cooke Taylor’s History of the Overthrow of the Roman Empire as an adolescent. In the pages of this book he would have found
Press, 2013); Kendall A. Johnson, The Middle Kingdom: China and the Early American Romance of Free Trade (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017).
50 Ander Permanyer-Ugartemendia, ‘La participación española en la economía del opio en Asia Oriental tras el fin del Galeón’ (unpublished PhD thesis, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, 2013) and ‘Opium after the Manila Galleon: The Spanish Involvement in the Opium Economy in East Asia (1815–1830)’, Investigaciones de Historia Económica-Economic History Research , 10:3 (October 2014), 155
press, and leadership of the ‘Bulgarian Atrocities Agitation’, as he condemned British foreign policy as ‘unrighteous’, ‘a national shame’, and ‘the greatest of evils’. 4 In particular, I focus on the way in which Freeman’s antagonism towards the Islamic Turk was mirrored in his vitriolic assaults on Disraeli who he constituted as a Jew. At the height of the Crisis, Freeman published his second volume on Eastern history, The Ottoman Power in Europe (1877), which contained a systematic exposition of his theory that there existed an ‘Oriental conspiracy’. From
This article investigates how Chaucer‘s Knight‘s and Squire‘s tales critically
engage with the Orientalist strategies buttressing contemporary Italian humanist
discussions of visual art. Framed by references to crusading, the two tales
enter into a dialogue focusing, in particular, on the relations between the
classical, the scientific and the Oriental in trecento Italian discourses on
painting and optics, discourses that are alluded to in the description of
Theseus Theatre and the events that happen there. The Squire‘s Tale exhibits
what one might call a strategic Orientalism designed to draw attention to the
Orientalism implicit in his fathers narrative, a narrative that, for all its
painstaking classicism, displays both remarkably Italianate and Orientalist
features. Read in tandem, the two tales present a shrewd commentary on the
exclusionary strategies inherent in the construction of new cultural identities,
arguably making Chaucer the first postcolonial critic of the Renaissance.
in Hamam (Onaran, 1997 ; Anderlini-D’Onofrio, 2007 ; Girelli, 2007 ), but this is not so much nostalgia for a place, since Özpetek still visits his native city on a regular basis, but for Istanbul at a particular moment in history when same-sex practices were an intrinsic part of the city’s life. I wish to demonstrate that, whereas the seductive Orientalism articulated in Özpetek’s cinematic narrative seems, on a superficial level, to align him with old-fashioned Orientalists who bolstered a picture of Turkey as a place of base hedonism, he does so in a way