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production in its own right” [80]. Whalen’s discussion of information in the antebellum economy has some interesting nuances and qualification, but in the final analysis he subsumes it beneath his concept of production: “Although Poe called it ‘thinking material,’ I have used the simpler name of information to designate the kind of written or otherwise objectified knowledge that re-enters the process of production and thereby valorizes capital ” [271]. But there is, of course, another notion of information, as an “explanatory quantity . . . of zero dimensions” [Gregory Bateson, “Cybernetic Explanation,” in Steps to an Ecology of Mind (New York: Ballantine Books, 1972): 4031. Such an understanding is hardly a refutation or denial of the ways in which information as knowledge can be produced, stored, accumulated, and capitalized; but it does suggest that there are different dynamisms at work as well, ones in which information is not transmitted, but rather emergent from processes of relationality and selection: This economics differs from an economics of energy or money . . . being a ratio [it] is not subject to addition or subtraction but only to multiplicative processes, such as fractionation” [Bateson , 4031. If we decide that the knowledge economy and the information economy can neither be separated nor conflated, we find ourselves in an environment of dismaying complexity and hypersaturated meaning, in which, pace Whalen, there are neither first nor last instances and thus very little chance of securely distinguishing a new contribution to knowledge from “yet another text for interpretation” [196], Jonathan Elnier Indiana University REVIEW Purveying Poe Eric W. Carlson, editor. A Companion to Poe Studies. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996. xiv, 604 pp. $99.50. Cloth. Eric W. Carlson begins his introduction to this volume by stating that “[tlhis reference guide is intended for the student and the common reader as well as the scholar in the study of Poe biography , criticism, aesthetics, philosophy, and influence ” [l]. The guide is divided into five sections, dealing with Poe’s life, writings, thought, art, and influence respectively. In a section of the introduction that describes various “frames” theorists have used in studying Poe, Carlson responsibly highlights his own critical perspective, which emphasizes Poe’s “psychal transcendentalism,” while making clear his positions on New Critical, feminist , and what he broadly labels deconstructionist approaches. The introduction offers a brief, relatively even-handed survey of these and other perspectives-an even-handedness repeated later in Carlson’s two chapters on Poe’s tales. According to the editor, “[bly and large, each contributor has attempted to report not only the known facts but also some of the major critical approaches and interpretations, old and new, and to do so in an objective , balanced way” [l]. While these articles do not necessarily provide any new revelations in their approach to Poe, they do provide a well-researched, comprehensive presentation of the breadth of Poe studies. Ian Walker and Alexander Hammond contribute two essays that, taken in aggregate, outline perspectives in Poe biography from Poe’s era to the publication of Kenneth Silverman’s Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-Ending Remembrance (1991) and Jeffrey Meyers’s Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy (1992). In “The Poe Legend,” Walker, editor of Edgar Allan Poe: The Critical Heritage (1986), describes in chronological order Poe’s contributions to myths about his own life and the influence of Griswold’s “Memoir” on future Poe biographies . He highlights the tendency of Poe scholars to celebrate naively, condemn, or psychoanalyze Poe until the appearance of Arthur Hobson Quinn’s Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography (1941), which, in Walker’s opinion, “brought high 70 standards of academic scholarship” to Poe biography [381. ganizational method, producing a coherent scheme of abstracts that cover “Berenice,” “Morella.” and Hammond begins his essay with ‘‘cautionary notes,” urging those new to the study of Poe biography to avoid the pitfalls of many “speculative” hypotheses, including those that deal with Poe’s sex life, his lack of recognition by contemporaries, and his alledged use of drugs [43]. Hammond gives a quick overview of some brief and easily accessible entries into Poe biography followed by a qualitative assessment of documentary and scholarly sources that have become available since Quinn. Hammond ends...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1754-6095
Print ISSN
1947-4644
Pages
pp. 70-73
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-07
Open Access
No
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