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  • Poe’s Pervasive Influence edited by Barbara Cantalupo
  • Ben Fisher (bio)
Poe’s Pervasive Influence. Edited by Barbara Cantalupo. Bethlehem: Lehigh University Press, 2012. vi + 161 pp. $65.00

Poe‘s influence on French authors is well-known, with special attention given to that connection by Patrick F. Quinn, Lois Vines, and W. T. Bandy, whose special focus was the Poe–Baudelaire connection. Vines’s later, edited book Poe Abroad (1999) contains brief essays assessing Poe’s reputation in many parts of the world, many of which had previously been little known. Two more books concerning Poe’s impact merit citation here: Joan Delaney Grossman’s Edgar Allan Poe in Russia: A Study in Legend and Literary Influence (1973) and Carl L. Anderson’s Poe in Northlight: The Scandinavian Response to His Life and Work (1973). The present book increases information about Poe’s worldwide influences, notably in the East and in South America, though these are by no means the only geographic areas encompassed. The twelve pieces published here were originally parts of the Third International Edgar Allan Poe Conference, held in Philadelphia in October 2009, and include critical essays, poems, and an interview, thereby attesting to the more than geographical diversity in Poe’s outreach.

The contents are as follows: Seth Jacobowitz, “Pathologizing Modernity: The Grotesque in Poe and Rampo”; William O. Gardner, “Visionary Media in Edgar Allan Poe’s and Edogawa Rampo”; Mark Silver, “Poe’s Shadow in Japan: Alternative Worlds and Failed Escapes in Edogawa Rampo’s The Strange Tale of Panorama Island”; Barbara Cantalupo, “Interview with Kiyoshi Kasai”; Diane M. Smith, “Lu Sun and Poe: Reading the Psyche”; Alexandra Urakova, “‘Breaking the Law of Silence’: Rereading Poe’s ‘The Man of the Crowd’ and Gogol’s ‘The Portrait’”; Isabel Oliveira Martins, “‘What Has Occurred That Has (Never) Occurred Before’: A Case Study of the First Portuguese Detective Story”; Margarida Vale de Gato, “‘Around Reason Feeling’: Poe’s Impact on Fernando Pessoa’s Modernist Proposal”; Charles Cantalupo, “Poe in Place”; Daniel Hoffman, “Ligeia—Not Me! Three Women Writers Respond to Poe”; Shoko Itoh, “Gothic Windows in Poe’s Narrative Space”; John Gruesser, “Poe’s Progeny: Varieties of Detection in Key American Literary Texts, 1841–1861.”

In addition to the interview, we have Charles Cantalupo’s poems. Barbara Cantalupo’s no-nonsense introduction sets an appropriate stage: “No other American writer has had such a profound impact on the arts as well as on the popular imagination in the United States and abroad” (1). She provides a précis [End Page 96] for each selection. Therefore my comments suggest how some of the pieces extend ideas about Poe’s influence already on record. These additions/expansions constitute the real value of this book

Long recognized, optics figure significantly in Poe’s writings, and the cluster of critiques concerning Poe’s impact on the Japanese writer “Edogawa Rampo” (pseudonym of Tarö Hirai [1894–1965]), whose works have borne such strong influence on modern Japanese detective fiction, highlight Rampo’s works with like techniques. Rampo followed leads, as he considered them, evident in Poe’s works, as the critiques of Poe–Rampo bear out. Seth Jacobowitz convincingly demonstrates that in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and Rampo’s Strange Tales of the Paranormal exists evidence of a “shift from celebrating the supernatural and transcendental aspects of the grotesque toward the dispassionate observation of violent alienation of social relations” (10). Jacobowitz, in part, echoes Cantalupo’s suggestion of fallacy in “the stereotypical image of a consummately rational versus excessively Gothic Poe” (3). Indeed Jacobowitz’s essay stands as a welcome challenge to attempts at dividing Poe’s works into distinct categories. Poe would likely relish critics’ wrestling with ambiguous terms and with conflicts in categorization. As for “Murders” itself, I am delighted that the ideas of Cantalupo and Jacobowitz reinforce my own contention (1973), that Poe combined what might be considered “Gothic excess” with rationalism, the latter presented in Dupin’s explanation as the tale concludes. Thus “Murders” stands as a sophisticated transition piece from Gothic before Poe to Gothic after Poe. Jacobowitz also offers a stimulating comparison of “William Wilson” and Rampo’s “The Stalker in...


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