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The Philosophy of Composition

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  378 ratings  ·  43 reviews
“The Philosophy of Composition” is a literary essay by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849). First published in 1846, it is about the mysteries of artistic creation.

“Most writers—poets in especial—prefer having it understood that they compose by a species of fine frenzy—an ecstatic intuition…”

This edition also contains a long note on Poe’s life and work written by French poet C
Kindle Edition, Annotated, 42 pages
Published February 6th 2014 (first published 1846)
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Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Oh, I almost forgot that I read this one (okay, the Czech edition, but I feel too lazy to add the Czech edition...). I was writing a paper on Raven in High school, and the teacher was ecstatic that I used this as my source as well (instead of the internet as the majority of the class did. 😂)

So, thank you, Poe, that you wrote this and secured me an A and a nice note from the teacher.

This is not something I would usually read, but since it got me a good mark, I had to make an exception.

I believe
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Beauty of whatever kind in its supreme development invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears. Melancholy is thus the most legitimate of all the poetical tones.“

"When it most closely allies itself to Beauty: the death then of a beautiful woman is unqestionably the most poetical topic in the world.."
Maryam Rajee
Oct 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: essay
well in this essay Poe very unlike the Romantics that believed in spontaneous rush of feelings as a prominent element for writing a poem, brought the term " mathematical pre-calculation" for writing a poem. It's admirable how he thought about creating a literary piece but as Cicero stated once in ancient times, "we should grasp the subject and the words follow", I didn't like Poe's attitude towards poetry writing.
Asmaa Elsayed
May 23, 2015 rated it liked it
So pretentious, Poe! :')
Alice Herondale
Jun 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think I don't have enough words to describe this AWESOME essay.
Yes, I have read "The Raven", I have studied Poe at university as well as this essay, but until now I had never thought of reading "The philosophy of Composition", so I decided to do it.
And I swear that if I ever wonder why Edgar Allan Poe is one of my favourite writers ever I will re-read this amazing essay.
Is it possible to enjoy Poe's iconic tales and poems even more than you already do? Hell, yes, you just have to read an essay
K. Anna Kraft
Apr 12, 2020 rated it liked it
I have arranged my takeaway thoughts into a haiku:

"Art has a process,
And when the process strikes gold,
Watch how it loops back."
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful, very informative essay.
Lnaz Izd
Oct 08, 2015 rated it liked it
"Melancholy is thus the most legitimate of all the poetical tones."
Oct 17, 2016 rated it liked it
fairly interesting if one cares to know the steps Poe'd followed in conceiving his masterpiece, The Raven.
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think this was totally Poe just taking the mick, but I enjoyed it!
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
From my quick reading, I was able to parse out some obvious and some out so obvious wisdom from this "how-to" book:

1. Have the ending planned before writing the beginning.

2. Keep it short or fear breaking the spell (the ‘one-sitting’ rule, ~100 lines)

3. Choose the impression you would like to leave with the reader.

4. Choose the tone of the work

5. Determine the theme and characterization of the work

6. Establish the climax

7. Determine the location (location, location, location - I believe time per
Mar 06, 2020 added it
I have to read around 10 of Poe's works this weekend because we're covering him in class this coming week. I am absolutely not complaining, though. This man is a genius.

This particular work of his is nonfiction and in it, Poe walks us through the thought process that led him to writing arguably his most famous poem ever, The Raven. I have never doubted Poe's genius but the way he talked about the art of writing and his process made me even more in awe of him and his talent.
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reading this essay whilst reading 'The Raven' by Edgar Allan Poe was very refreshing. I loved how he explicitly tells the reader what ideas went on whilst composing 'The Raven'. Even though I might not completely agree with the first part of the essay, on what makes a poem 'Beautiful', I thought the explanation of his work 'The Raven' very interesting.
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
While slightly pretentious, this essay was a fascinating dissection, from the man himself, of Poe's methods and thoughts used in creating "The Raven". Very insightful, a must-read for anyone who is under the impression that even the best writers just vomit up masterpieces without first making many plans and many mistakes.
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"The fact is that originality (unless in minds of very unusual force) is by no means a matter, as some suppose, of impulse or intuition. In general, to be found, it must be elaborately sought, and although a positive merit of the highest class, demands in its attainment less of invention than negation."
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Perfect for Poe fans who seek to write stories of the macabre, complete with a small essay by Baudelaire, what's to complain about?
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Poe was a genius, indeed.
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Cassidy Tilden
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly hilarious.
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I hate the way it is structured but yeah like it does have good writing tips
Anna abookobsessed
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read this for my American Short Fiction class
Tiffany Peña
Feb 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ibooks
Pretty well-written. If you're interested in Poe and his creative process, this should be a great read. He explains his step by step process of writing The Raven. ...more
Scott Cox
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“Nothing is more clear than that every plot, worth the name, must be elaborated to its denouement before anything be attempted with the pen.” In the first essay, Edgar Allan Poe delineates the processes by which he crafted tales such as “The Raven.” The author was desirous of creating his desired effect by means of four considerations. First, extent or length, “If any literary work is too long to be read at one sitting, we must be content to dispense with the immensely important effect derivable ...more
Sep 07, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Good poetry is defined by a skillful and inspirationless:
- Use of repetitions
- Occurrance of a given refrain again and again
- Choosing universal themes, discarding any originality
- Occurrance of many contrasts
- Originality in the choice of metre and verse, praising musicality over all.

So, commercial pop music is good poetry.
Lady Gaga is the great poet of our time.

(Jokes apart, maybe it was the fact that he said that Milton is not a poet, orthat I don't like self celebrations in any kind of wr
Jun 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-for-school
We can sum it up very easily: his theory of how good writers write well is based on three essential things: length, effect and method.

1) Length: All literary works should be a single sitting and short.
2) Effect: Unity of effect must be determined by the writer for emotional response of readers and the construction of that effect's elements are tone, theme, setting, characters, conflict, and plot.
3)Method: Writing is a work which you proceed like a mathematical problem, step by step, there is n
Antonio Kowatsch
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book has a slightly pretentious subtext but on the other hand it's highly insightful (so I guess it doesn't really matter). Poe literally dissects his masterpiece "The Raven" and explains in quite some detail his modus operandi. Thus giving us a rare glimpse into his mind.
I really liked it.
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
although it is quite interesting to see how Poe dissects his work (especially here The Raven) and to read about how he came to create one of his masterpieces, this just felt really pretentious and i don't personally agree with what he thinks makes a good poem/poet (that's just my opinion though)
Oct 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A bit on the pretentious side but still very interesting
Jan 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Risible rigidity of precepts that cannot be taken seriously when applied to the short story but very well crafted
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite not agreeing with all his points, this is an intriguing essay on poetry and writing which opens the door to further discussions on the nature of those subjects.
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The name Poe brings to mind images of murderers and madmen, premature burials, and mysterious women who return from the dead. His works have been in print since 1827 and include such literary classics as The Tell-Tale Heart, The Raven, and The Fall of the House of Usher. This versatile writer’s oeuvre includes short stories, poetry, a novel, a textbook, a book of scientific theory, and hundreds of ...more

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