Monday, April 28, 2014

The Deliverance of Tragedy

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe is a distinctly unique blend of adventure narrative. Poe masterfully employs his flair for depravity to create an adventure story about adventure narratives, similar to The Voyage of the Narwhal, which is imbibed with the theme of human corruption. One literary device that I found particularly antagonizing was Poe’s use of a reticent narrator. Pym narrates from a similar perspective as Arlene Blum did, in that he was “convinced” to write about his adventures out of a perceived duty to others. The difference, obviously, is that this story is fiction, and was designed to be written. Beginning at the preface, I am not reading out of a desire to see Pym through his adventures safely. I know he’s safe. Instead, my satisfaction is derived from Poe’s continuous deliverance of tragedy. This is Poe’s forte, and by guaranteeing that his narrator survives the events to follow, he relieves his reader of a responsibility to empathize with him. I am fully aware that this book is actively manipulating me, but as opposed to feeling cheated, I feel freed by its fictive nature to dive into Poe’s depraved world.

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