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  • The Portrayal of the Grotesque in Stoddard's and Quantin's Illustrated Editions of Edgar Allan Poe (1884): An Interdisciplinary Analysis of the Relations Between the Visual and the Verbal by Fernando González-Moreno and Margarita Rigal-Aragón
  • John Gruesser (bio)
Fernando González-Moreno and Margarita Rigal-Aragón. The Portrayal of the Grotesque in Stoddard's and Quantin's Illustrated Editions of Edgar Allan Poe (1884): An Interdisciplinary Analysis of the Relations Between the Visual and the Verbal. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2017. 220 pp. and 34 plates. $219.95 paper.

As they explain in the preface, art historian Fernando González-Moreno and literary scholar Margarita Rigal-Aragón, both of the University of Castilla–La Mancha in Spain, have endeavored over the last decade to address the visual dimension of Edgar Allan Poe and his oeuvre that has "been neglected by both philologists and by art historians, a problem that could only be solved" through interdisciplinary collaboration (iii). Readers should not be put off by the length or the seemingly narrow focus of the title of this book, which builds on Poe and the Visual Arts by Barbara Cantalupo (who provides the foreword), The Portraits and Daguerreotypes of Edgar Allan Poe by Michael J. Deas, and especially Images of Poe's Works: A Comprehensive Catalogue of Illustrations by Burton R. Pollin. The novel approach that the authors adopt toward Poe's reception, the astute analysis that they provide of illustrations of his writings, and the wide-ranging information that they bring to bear on the subject will enlighten and intrigue Poe scholars and enthusiasts.

The authors focus on two significant illustrated editions of Poe's works published in 1884: Histoires extraordinaires and Nouvelle histoires extraordinaires, published in Paris by Albert Quantin and including Charles Baudelaire's "Edgar Poe, sa vie et ses œuvres"; and The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, brought out in New York by A. C. Armstrong and Sons and containing a "Memoir" of Poe by the editor, Richard Henry Stoddard. The former features artwork by Hermann Vogel, Daniel Urrabieta Vierge, François-Nicholas Chifflart, Jules-Descartes Férat, (Léon Pierre) Herpin, Henri Meyer, Jean-Paul Laurens, and Fortuné-Louis Méaulle, and the latter that of Robert Swain Gifford, Frederick Stuart Church, and Charles Adam Platt. Taking a long historical perspective, González-Moreno and Rigal-Aragón describe these volumes as standing at a "crossroads" moment "when Poe was perceived for the first time in his widest aesthetic variety. They recognized in Poe's tales and reflected in their own illustrations those values that, pictorially, could be considered more traditional. . . . But, they were also ready to explore for the first time those other 'caverns of the imagination'" (106–7), namely, "the grotesque in all its dimensions" (xii). [End Page 298] The artists in the Quantin and Stoddard editions "could, for the first time, explore multifaceted aspects of Poe's tales. They toured the beautiful, the sublime, and the picturesque (as their previous colleagues had done), but they also went into the grotesque as parody, the grotesque–macabre, and the grotesque–supernatural, and put before the eyes of readers images which had never been painted in regards to Poe's tales" (171).

The volume concerns not simply illustrations of Poe's works published between the 1840s and 1884 but also the assessments and reassessments of his life and literature that took place during this period. The first chapter, "The Writer of the Visual Era," discusses Poe's ideas about art and early illustrations based on his texts, most of which were devoted to his poetry rather than his fiction. González-Moreno and Rigal-Aragón contend that "Poe—probably more than any other writer of his time—was immensely aware of the impact of illustrations and of the relationship between the art of writing and the art of painting."1 Chapter 2, "On the Prologues to the [sic] Quantin's and Stoddard's [sic] Editions (1884)," places the statements made by Stoddard and Baudelaire in the 1884 volumes in the larger context of early Poe detractors and early Poe champions. The authors credit Baudelaire for...


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