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The Personal Narrative of Edgar Allan Poe
There are few writers whose works journeyed beyond them into new eras and centuries. Edgar Allan Poe is one such writer. Most noted for his tales and poems of mystery and the macabre, Poe is still considered a literary great among the American Romantics.
The literary periods are very complex even to the most season scholar. Yet, Poe’s classification as a Romantic writer holds true due to two explanations in the chaos of Romantic definition in literature. The first definition claimed the rising to excessive heights the senses and emotions instead of the preceding reason and intellect. Reason was the only element needed to arrive at the concept of truth in the absence of experience. The other was a philosophical uprising of what was acceptable as rational.
Yet, these are not the real reasons why we in this modern century enjoy reading the works of Edgar Allan Poe. It is his personal narrative that offers the most intriguing invitation into his imaginative world. Over ninety percent of his work is in the first-person narrative.
A connection between the reader and the narrative is established, one that allows the two to hold hands as the story progresses.
The reader hears the narrative either in past or present. You are drawn into the story as if you are hearing it first hand by an eyewitness. This experience makes the observance irresistible. Can you imagine someone actually going through that?
This was a narrative used more frequently in the past especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and used in restraint in recent times. The third person omnipresent voice has a measure of safety among current fictional writers and its place is highly valued.
When the third person omnipresent narrative is used, the reader is fully engaged in the story but not concerned of who is the teller of the tale . . . not really. The story unfolds; the reader reads it and maintains a safe distance to the events in the story.
The first person narrative is much more intimate. The door between fiction and reality can be seen with clearer vision, providing a challenge to both the reader and writer. This can make fiction believable, even though it is clearly not.
In Poe’s short story “Elonora” the opening line reads . . . “I am come of a race noted for vigor of fancy and ardor of passion. Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence – whether much that is glorious – whether all that is profound – does not spring from disease of thought – from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect.”
Now . . . who voice is that, the author or the narrator?
Oh, what richness.
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