’s View On Poe Essay, Research Paper
Cats Meets The Raven
What is an author? What does it matter who is speaking? These questions posed by Michel Foucault lead the reader of his essay in many directions and to multitudes of questions. The ideas presented in T.S. Eliot s essay From Poe to Valery illustrate three different ways of examining Poe, his work, and also the influence of his work.
Eliot discusses the various influences Poe had on such famous authors as Arthur Conan Doyle and H.G. Wells. I especially like how he wrote that
Sherlock Holmes was deceiving Watson when he told him that he had bought his Stradivarius violin for a few shillings at a second hand shop in the Tottenham Court Road. He found that violin in the ruins of the house of Usher.
Eliot then goes on to define the term la poesie pure or pure poetry. He says that all poetry starts from our emotions experienced and by our interactions with others. I wasn t sure if this upholds the idea that nothing is original and all work is influenced by something else, so there is no original work, and who is to say who the author of some work is. All of this goes along with the author function, showing that sometimes to classify a work by its author, or to stereotype an author as a certain kind of writer is a folly.
Eliots presents his reader with three different French poets from three different ages, each of whom looked at Poe from a different perspective. The first of which, Baudelaire, stereotypes Poe as le poete maudit or the outcast poet, He identifies with Poe and is mostly interested more in Poe s personality. This type of analysis would not fly in this course as we are more interested in discourse, but, in the introduction to his translation of Poe, Baudelaire gives one esthetic remark.
He believe [says Baudelaire], true poet that he was, that the goal of poetry is the same nature as its principle, and that it should have nothing in view but itself.
This of course leads Eliot over Mallerme whose main interest is that of Poe s verse even though Poe s verse does not translate well into the French language.
. The death of the author is most apparent in Valery who is not concerned with Poe s lifestyle like Baudelaire, or Poe s versification like Mallerme, but rather the metaphysical and esthetic implications of Poe s work. Valery says I prize the theories, so profound and so insidiously learned. Once again Eliot mentions the idea of pure poetry and how it is only achieved through by increasing consciousness of language. This of course we discussed with the author function as well. The idea that we don t write, the language writes and works through the author so that the author is really a function of the language while also a function of the work. Another characteristic Valery takes from Poe is his skepticism. He believes everything to be only a rough draft, never being finished. As we saw in Pym, Poe can leave us without a defined ending and not feel guilty about it at all after he has gotten us to play his game of trying to see him through his writing when it is just his message, never himself.
Eliot believes that pure poetry came easily to Poe, even with the impurity in his use of words, to Poe, the treatment was everything. He also states that Poe and Valery through their extremes meet with the same result. Poe having no convictions because he never matured to that level, and Valery s adult mind being too skeptical to hold any convictions.
Eliot s use of the three poets to display the author function and how it works through different analysis is a paper that Foucault would have admired. He shows the different ways the three poets looked at Poe s work and then concentrated on Valery who overlooks Poe to get to his theories.