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Edgar Allan Poe and the Masses Hardcover – April 5, 1999

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews


Winner of the 2000 Patrick F. Quinn Award of the Poe Studies Association, Modern Language Association

"Here is the best book on Poe these last twenty years, and it takes high rank among critiques of Poe overall. . . . Impressive, indeed formidable, knowledge about Poe's writings and of secondary bibliography is evident. His homework done well, this critic offers impressive results."--Benjamin F. Fisher, South Central Review

"An important and carefully researched book on Poe. . . . Whalen is a remarkably well versed Poe scholar. . . . His elegantly and lucidly written book . . . is sure to crucially influence the future shape of Poe studies."--Scott S. Derrick, Journal of Southern History

From the Inside Flap

"The most illuminating full-scale study of Poe to appear in many years, Terence Whalen's Edgar Allan Poe and the Masses reconstructs the economic determinants of the author's career to establish a compelling new understanding of his works and his place in American literature. Often cast as an otherworldly outsider, Poe emerges here as a representative figure, a shrewd magazinist acutely aware of (and responsive to) developments in American mass culture during the antebellum market revolution. Poe regarded the emerging mass audience as a target of exploitation but also a menace to serious art and personal privacy; Whalen resituates standard texts like The Gold Bug to show how economic issues suffused Poe's narratives and how worries about the horrid laws of political economy, dogged even his visionary projects. A work of extraordinary originality and resourcefulness, Edgar Allan Poe and the Masses seems to me an indispensable book destined to set the course for Poe studies in the coming decade."--J. Gerald Kennedy, author of Poe, Death, and the Life of Writing

"Uncovering previously elided socioeconomic aspects of Poe's scene of writing Terence Whalen's book constitutes a major contribution to Poe criticism. Edgar Allan Poe and the Masses exhibits astute theoretical reach, original archival research, and sensitive, close readings of Poe's fiction and journalism."--Louis A. Renza, Dartmouth College

"Cultural critics have been concerned with the economic conditions of book publishing and journalism, often in quite general terms; and there are scholars who have been interested in Edgar Allan Poe's work, who have gone to the archives, verified texts, established historical contexts. Whalen, however, is the rare case of a critic who has a sharp theoretical mind and has done archival work; he knows his texts. In the course of this book, Whalen has managed to revise many of the common assumptions about Poe's career as a writer. Simply stated, this is a major book."--Lilian Weissberg, University of Pennsylvania


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (April 5, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691001995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691001999
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,724,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
This book makes many original contributions to the study of Poe and his times. As I read through it, I began to understand what Poe must have felt as he struggled to make it as a professional writer. The book has something for everyone: capitalism, slavery, desperate acts of deception, and a fascinating link between Poe and Charles Babbage, who invented the prototype of the modern computer. I especially liked the fact that Whalen laid out convincing evidence--much of it new--instead of just making assertions. The book is not just an interpretation of Poe; it's really an attempt to recreate one of the most important moments in American cultural history.
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