Monday, April 28, 2014

Suspense in Pym

The dark, suspenseful narrative common in Poe's works certainly adds a completely new dynamic to the genre of adventure narrative. While we've encountered a lot of stressful, suspenseful and dramatic situations in our earlier texts, Poe’s flair adds a whole new level to the idea of narrative suspense.
Pym’s narrative voice reminds me of what Simpson’s might have been, if he had written a horizontal adventure novel. The chapter in which Pym is trapped in the crawlspace under the ship, running out of food and waiting for his friend to come could be compared with Simpson’s description of his exhausting journey down the mountain after falling into a crevasse. Both characters are undergoing physical stress and narrating their stories in the first person, speaking directly to the reader.

Yet for some reason, while I read Simpson’s text and find it suspenseful because it is nonfiction, I don’t have that same response to Poe’s novel.  Poe creates a completely different type of narrative thrill, through his use of unexpected plot twists and creating believable out of the unbelievable. Simpson’s novel was relatively predictable, and the elements of foreshadowing throughout the beginning of the novel hinted at the disaster that was to come. Yet in Pym, we are completely caught off guard. While many of the scenarios in Pym seem objectively unbelievable (like his dog showing up out of nowhere) when told by this first person narrator, they seem to have the authority of a nonfiction story. 

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