“The heresy of The Didactic”: Poe, the Literary Field, and the Aestheticization of the Market
- Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 74, Number 2, Summer 2018
- pp. 89-112
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This article is centered on Edgar Allan Poe’s polemic against didacticism in literature as emblematic of the author’s trajectory in a still inchoate but emerging American literary field. Drawing on a Bourdieusian theoretical framework and testing it against the antebellum US literary scene, it argues that, at a time when the market economy was becoming preeminent, this polemic is symptomatic of Poe’s attempt to envisage a new principle, a new nomos for literary writing, which neither opposes, nor subscribes to, the market, but rather seeks to aestheticize its rules—to turn the laws of the market into the very rules of art itself.