This essay explores the ways in which Edgar Allan Poe used script, along with text, portraits, and voice, to help him navigate the moral registers of nineteenth-century American authorship. Given the cultural belief that there was little distinction between the character of an author and the characters within a text, Poe's gothic work necessitated that he seek to disarticulate his self from the various selves that peopled his tales, in particular, or risk being branded a degenerate and ignored. This essay examines several of Poe's manuscripts for strategic shifts in his handwriting, contextualizing these alongside texts, images, and literary performances in the period's salons, in order to disclose the important work that his handwriting, with its various scripts, did in shaping his authorial self for the public. It considers Poe's plans for The Stylus and his fascination with anastatic printing as a means for ushering in new conditions of literary production that would not only offer financial benefit to authors but ensure their ability to control the interpretive registers of the self through the presentation of the hand.


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pp. 44-73
Launched on MUSE
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