Edgar Allan Poe and the Masses: The Political Economy of Literature in Antebellum America

Edgar Allan Poe and the Masses: The Political Economy of Literature in Antebellum America

by Terence Whalen

Hardcover(New Edition)

$90.00

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691001999
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 04/25/1999
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 392
Product dimensions: 7.75(w) x 10.00(h) x (d)

About the Author


Terence Whalen is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His work has appeared in such journals as American Quarterly and Representations.

Table of Contents

Preface
List of Abbreviations
Pt. 1Capitalism and Literature1
Ch. 1Introduction: Minor Writing and the Capital Reader3
Ch. 2The Horrid Laws of Political Economy21
Ch. 3Fables of Circulation: Poe's influence on the Messenger58
Ch. 4Poe and the Masses76
Pt. 2Race and Region109
Ch. 5Average Racism: Poe, Slavery, and the Wages of Literary Nationalism111
Ch. 6Subtle Barbarians: The Southern Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe147
Pt. 3Mass Culture193
Ch. 7The Code for Gold: Poe and Cryptography195
Ch. 8Culture of Surfaces225
Ch. 9The Investigating Angel: Poe, Babbage, and "The Power of Words"249
Notes275
Index323

What People are Saying About This

Louis A. Renza

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.

J. Gerald Kennedy

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.

Lilian Weissberg, University of Pennsylvania

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

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.

J. Gerald Kennedy, author of Poe, Death, and the Life of Writing

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.

Louis A. Renza, Dartmouth College

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.

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