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Reading and Not Reading 'The Man of the Crowd': Poe, the City, and the Gothic Text

Nicol, BJ (2013) Reading and Not Reading 'The Man of the Crowd': Poe, the City, and the Gothic Text Philological Quarterly: devoted to scholarly investigation of the classical and modern languages and literatures, 91 (3).

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Abstract

Poe’s ‘The Man of the Crowd’, as Patricia Merivale has observed, be justifiably be considered a counterpart to ‘The Purloined Letter’ in its significance in cultural theory. It has been particularly valued as a kind of sociological document which reveals and critiques aspects of the scopic and material conditions of the modern city.Yet despite an almost universal acknowledgement that the tale is about ‘reading’, most critics have worked with a rather impoverished model of reading. Following the example of Tom Gunning, who has argued that the tale provides premonitions of a range of spectator positions in cinema, this essay argues that the story dramatizes typical responses to the literary text which are more complex than the flan flanerie. To place the text in a more explicitly literary context opens it up to an analysis which takes account of how complex its structure is, and the fact that the narrator has typically-Poe-esque ‘delusional’ credentials, and acknowledge how this might compromise or complicate some of the arguments about urban reading. As such it demands to be considered in terms of the capacity of Poe’s fiction to seduce readers into what Joseph Kronick has called, ‘identifying the intepretation with the text’, particularly in relation to the particular self-reflexive effect Garrett Stewart has termed the ‘gothic of reading’.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of English and Languages > English
Authors :
AuthorsEmailORCID
Nicol, BJUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date : 18 November 2013
Uncontrolled Keywords : Poe, Reading, visual culture, modernity, seduction, flaneur, self-reflexivity
Related URLs :
Additional Information : Posted with permission from the publisher.
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 04 Nov 2014 09:12
Last Modified : 04 Nov 2014 09:12
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/806023

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