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The Man of the Crowd
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Interim Readings > Edgar Allan Poe: The Man of the Crowd

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David | 2592 comments We have two weeks of interim reads before our next big read.

This time around there will be two short selections, one for each week. The first selection seemed appropriate as the world begins a great re-opening.

The Man of the Crowd, by Edgar Allan Poe
Free link here: https://poestories.com/read/manofthec...

Oddly enough, the main character is just recovering his zest for life after a long illness, hopefully it was not something serious, but considering this is a Poe story, it probably was. Even the epigraph spurs new thoughts in light of quarantines and lockdowns: Ce grand malheur, de ne pouvoir être seul translates to This great misfortune, of not being able to be alone. I suppose some of us see it as a misfortune, and others may see it as a boon. We can also shudder at the obvious lack of physical distancing the main character so nonchalantly describes.

Some things to think about as you are reading:
1. What do you think about the narrator's deductions in identifying groups, classes, and professions of people based on their dress and behavior in the crowd.
2. Can we do this same sort of crowd watching today?
3. How long had this sort of crowd watching been possible by the narrator's time?
4. What draws the narrator to the old man so much that he decides to follow him?
5. In this great throng of others, who is the old man?
6. Do you think the old man is evil, or a criminal?

Finally, do you agree with the narrator that it is a blessing that there are some secrets which do not permit themselves to be told? Does anyone want to go out for coffee?


message 2: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4409 comments The first thing I notice is that the first paragraph is packed with passive expressions. The book "does not permit itself to be read", secrets do not permit themselves to be told, mysteries will not suffer themselves to be revealed. Even the epigraph has an air of passivity. It's more than subjectivity; it almost sounds like the world has rejected the narrator.

On to the next paragraph... if it will permit me to read it.


message 3: by Nidhi (new)

Nidhi Kumari | 23 comments I don’t think that the old man is evil, I think he is a lonely man who doesn’t want to go to home...and narrator is a young man who can’t grasp this psychology maybe if he observed the old man sitting at one place he would have thought of old man’s loneliness.


message 4: by David (last edited May 27, 2020 12:21PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David | 2592 comments Nidhi wrote: "I don’t think that the old man is evil, I think he is a lonely man who doesn’t want to go to home...and narrator is a young man who can’t grasp this psychology maybe if he observed the old man sitt..."

What about the narrator's observation that:
. . .through a rent in a closely-buttoned and evidently second-handed roquelaire which enveloped him, I caught a glimpse both of a diamond and of a dagger. . ..
Is the cloak and dagger mere cliche or do they indicate someone with malign intentions?


message 5: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1458 comments I was struck by a couple of things. First of all, the narrator. He frames the story by beginning and ending with the words that some things cannot be read. And then he flashes back to an incident in the past where he presumes to “read” people based on the way they dress, their demeanor, and facial expressions. He classifies them and makes judgments about them. That struck me as arrogant.

Then he comes across the stranger whose “countenance . . . at once arrested and absorbed my whole attention, on account of the absolute idiosyncrasy of its expressions.” He does a bizarre thing and follows this guy around as if, by doing so, he can somehow solve the mystery behind the man. After exhausting himself by chasing the guy all over London, he looks him in the face as if he is trying to read him. But the stranger proves inscrutable and the narrator gives up “for I shall learn no more of him, nor of his deeds.” And then we circle back to the beginning quote.

Perhaps the narrator has learned that it is the height of arrogance to assume you can know or “read” people by just viewing them from the outside. And maybe the whole flashback is a record of when he first realizes this.


message 6: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1458 comments The other thing that struck me was the stranger—how his demeanor and pace changed depending on his surroundings. And then I remembered Eliot’s Prufrock: “There will time, there will be time/To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.”

The stranger accommodates to “blend” in with his surroundings. He speeds down empty streets but assumes “his original demeanor” when there’s a crowd. He tries to look busy, as if he has some purpose or goal in mind. But he doesn’t seem to have any purpose other than to blend in and avoid being alone.

I’m wondering if this is a statement about people in general, if the stranger is us. We modify our behavior to blend in with others, to look like we belong. We surround ourselves with people with whom we have no connection because it is preferable to being alone. Our misfortune lies in our inability to handle "aloneness."

This great misfortune, of not being able to be alone.


message 7: by David (last edited May 27, 2020 01:56PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David | 2592 comments Tamara wrote: "He frames the story by beginning and ending with the words that some things cannot be read. And then he flashes back to an incident in the past where he presumes to “read” people..."

If some things cannot be read, then some things can be read. In the end the narrator seems to suggest that only the worst things cannot be read:
The worst heart of the world is a grosser book than the 'Hortulus Animæ,' * and perhaps it is but one of the great mercies of God that 'er lasst sich nicht lesen.' "
Tamara wrote: "We modify our behavior to blend in with others, to look like we belong."

Doesn't the narrator also try to blend into the crowd at times in order not to be detected by the old man? I wonder, who is the man of the crowd? Is it the old man, or is it the narrator following the old man? Are they two sides of the same coin?

Tamara said, "We surround ourselves with people with whom we have no connection because it is preferable to being alone. Our misfortune lies in our inability to handle "aloneness."

That is interesting, and I think it can be taken both ways. We are both unable to cope with the condition of being alone, and quarantine's aside, cannot fully live alone even if we wanted to.


message 8: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1458 comments I'm also wondering if there is something going on between being alone and loneliness. You can be lonely in the midst of a crowd.

Is the man in the crowd surrounding himself with people to mitigate his feeling of loneliness? And is the narrator observing people, making judgments about them, and chasing a complete stranger in order to feel connected to others, i.e. to mitigate his feelings of loneliness?


message 9: by Nidhi (new)

Nidhi Kumari | 23 comments If the old man had a criminal mind or if had been ever a criminal he must have noticed his chaser. Maybe he had noticed and was feigning ignorance that’s what I was assuming through out the story.


Alexey | 288 comments Nidhi wrote: "If the old man had a criminal mind or if had been ever a criminal he must have noticed his chaser. Maybe he had noticed and was feigning ignorance that’s what I was assuming through out the story."

Yeas I assumed he wanted to escape from this unwelcome tag along.

It is a kind of stories that I like but have little to say after finishing it.


message 11: by David (last edited May 28, 2020 03:35AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David | 2592 comments The narrator does not suggest that old man pretended not to notice him but explicitly states that the old man genuinely does not notice him as he stands in front of him at the end:
I grew wearied unto death, and, stopping fully in front of the wanderer, gazed at him steadfastly in the face. He noticed me not, but resumed his solemn walk. . .
What might this signify about either the old man wandering aimlessly through the crowds, or about the narrator who aimlessly pursues him?

Maybe the narrator is unreliable? He tells us that his appetites and senses, particularly his vision, is sharpened after his illness, yet, from the coffee house at least, he views the crowd, through smokey panes.


message 12: by Brenda (new) - added it

Brenda (gd2brivard) I also had thoughts of being alone and loneliness, yet the juxtaposition of not wanting to, or able to be around people.

The man crawls across the whole city day and night, seeming to gravitate towards people, never finding anyone, yet when the narrator confronts him, the man doesn't seem to see him. I don't think the man is a criminal, I think the deep crime is that he refuses to be alone, goes to great lengths in fact. With that, he doesn't have any actual personal connections.

I don't know if the narrator was any good at reading people, he seemed to think he was. I get the same impression of him as of the man in a way, maybe a little lesser level, but the narrator sat in the cafe reading people for hours on end, thinking he knew each and every one, until he happened upon the man, followed him until "wearied unto death" finally confronted the man and determined himself the man's character and that he could learn no more of him. And that was it. After hours and hours, and pouring rain. Just moved on. Another need to be around people, thinking he knows them just by their appearance, but its superficial, he doesn't go past that. He also doesn't seem to have personal connections, he "reads" people and that's his idea of knowing them. He's very proud of this. Yet how often is this false? Do we ever really know anyone? Especially at face value?

It made me think of a Facebook page with thousands of friends, but home alone (before having to social distance).


message 13: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1458 comments Maybe, as David suggested in @7, the man and the narrator are two sides of the same coin.

Just as the man in the crowd doesn't notice him even though he stands right in front of him, the narrator doesn't know people even though he thinks he does and even though they are right in front of him. Maybe what fascinates him about the man in the crowd is he is looking at a mirror image of himself.


message 14: by Brenda (new) - added it

Brenda (gd2brivard) I missed that comments of David's. With that, being two sides of the same coin, the mirror image, is there any significance that they both sort of look through each other and nothing more?
What I find interesting is that he is so fascinated with the man, but then when he finally approaches him, he doesn't see anything further to keep his interest and walks away. And the man doesn't really see him. If they are one in the same, when they look at each other is it like looking at themselves and not seeing anything besides the surface and not willing to look any deeper? Almost repelled by their own lack of themselves?


message 15: by Tamara (last edited May 28, 2020 07:59AM) (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1458 comments Brenda wrote: "If they are one in the same, when they look at each other is it like looking at themselves and not seeing anything besides the surface and not willing to look any deeper? Almost repelled by their own lack of themselves?..."

An interesting point.
Either unwilling to look any deeper or unable to look any deeper because you can't judge the substance of a person by simply looking at the surface.


message 16: by Thomas (last edited May 28, 2020 12:09PM) (new)

Thomas | 4409 comments David wrote: "Maybe the narrator is unreliable? He tells us that his appetites and senses, particularly his vision, is sharpened after his illness, yet, from the coffee house at least, he views the crowd, through smokey panes."

Imagine if the story were told in the light of a bright sunny day, and after following his "suspect" around for a while the narrator had the courage to approach him and ask a few questions. The book might permit itself to be read in the light. But that would break the story's spell, which is cast by suspicion rather than revelation. On a sunny day and without the dagger the "man in the crowd" would probably fit into one of the narrator's categories and be easily forgotten...

A few years ago I took Michael Roth's Coursera class on Modernism & Postmoderism in which he talks about Baudelaire's fascination with the flaneur. The narrator reminds me of a flaneur, a man of leisure who wanders the city observing street life to no particular end.


message 17: by David (last edited May 28, 2020 01:41PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David | 2592 comments I don't know. How ordinary or easily forgotten does he look in this illustration? He reminds me of Snidely Whiplash, from the Dudley Do-Right cartoons.

From "The Man of the Crowd" by Harry Clarke (1889-1931), first printed in 1923.



message 18: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4409 comments He definitely looks like he could use a hug.


message 19: by Aiden (last edited May 28, 2020 04:12PM) (new) - added it

Aiden Hunt (paidenhunt) | 249 comments Okay, so after a close reading, I agree with a lot of what has been said, particularly about loneliness. There’s also some things I found/noticed that may help inform our discussion.

First, I wanted to point out the wording of the title, “The Man of the Crowd.” This struck me as significant. Poe says with the title that it is not simply a man in the crowd, but rather a man of the crowd. “In the crowd” would suggest a particular man in a crowd, maybe the old man, maybe the narrator, maybe neither. However, “of the crowd” suggests something more general, as in calling someone a man “of the people” to say that he represents them.

Second, I looked into a few philosophical allusions from the first page:

“as does the vivid yet candid reason of Leibnitz, the mad and flimsy rhetoric of Gorgias.”

Gorgias is the 6th century BCE Greek philosopher known to history as Gorgias the Nihilist. Not sure what that means to the story, but my thoughts compared nihilism with a book that doesn’t allow itself to be read. It does seem like a pointless item.

Liebnitz is the 17th century German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. He is known best known for a philosophical principle known as the Identity of Indiscernibles or Liebniz’s Law:

“The Identity of Indiscernibles is a principle of analytic ontology … [which] states that no two distinct things exactly resemble each other… The Identity of Indiscernibles is of interest because it raises questions about the factors which individuate qualitatively identical objects.” -Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

My personal opinion is that the the old man is just a lonely, possibly demented old man who wanders around with the crowd all day to feel less lonely. The indiscernibility of identicals may refer to the inability to discern whether the man of the title is the old man, whose face seemed to show innumerable possibilities, or the narrator himself. Or both?

Consider, after all, how the narrator would look to someone observing him following around this old man all day? Are they really different? Are they perhaps mirror images of each other as suggested above?

Sorry so long. Got caught up.


message 20: by Aiden (new) - added it

Aiden Hunt (paidenhunt) | 249 comments Come to think of it, is it possible the old man and the narrator are one man? As in the unnamed narrator, whose age is never referred to, is following his own reflection in the glass as he passes? And he simply thinks it’s a stranger due to his illness, which he never described. Just throwing that out there.


message 21: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4409 comments David wrote: "I don't know. How ordinary or easily forgotten does he look in this illustration? He reminds me of Snidely Whiplash, from the Dudley Do-Right cartoons.

From "The Man of the Crowd" by Harry Clarke ..."


And that is Poe in there, isn't it? Between the hag and the man by the wall?


message 22: by Thomas (last edited May 28, 2020 07:44PM) (new)

Thomas | 4409 comments Aiden wrote: "Second, I looked into a few philosophical allusions from the first page:

“as does the vivid yet candid reason of Leibnitz, the mad and flimsy rhetoric of Gorgias.”"


I think what he's saying there is that he believes that he has achieved a new clarity of vision or insight. Gorgias was a sophist, an intellectual con artist, and Leibniz was a mathematician credited (along with Isaac Newton) with discovering the calculus. The Greek he quotes is from Homer's description in the Iliad of the mist being swept from Diomedes' eyes so that he can distinguish between men and gods on the battlefield. The "mist" of the narrator's illness is like Gorgias's sophistry, and now that it has been swept away he claims to have the intellectual clarity of Leibniz. But does he really?

Poe is often called the inventor of the detective story. I'm not sure that the narrator is such a great detective, but he seems to think he is.


message 23: by David (last edited May 28, 2020 09:02PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David | 2592 comments How do both the old man and feel towards the crowd? It seems to me they both seek the crowd, but at the same time they avoid interacting with it, which makes me wonder how lonely are they really? The old man moves about largely unnoticed by the crowd as the narrator moves among the crowd unnoticed by the crowd and the old man, even after stopping fully in front of the wanderer, gazed at him steadfastly in the face.

It seems the old man and the narrator are drawn to the crowd. Are they cognizant of this and if so, do they like being drawn to the crowd? Do you think they like the crowd? As Tamara suggested in #5, does the narrator seems at times a little too judgemental and arrogant in his classifications?

The old man and the narrator seem to be the only individuals in the crowd. Does the old man not notice the narrator and the narrator not comprehend the old man because their ability to notice and understand the individual has been reduced to only noticing and understanding the crowd and its various classes and clusters of people?


David | 2592 comments Thomas wrote: "And that is Poe in there, isn't it? Between the hag and the man by the wall?

Now that you mention it, that person does appear to resemble Poe. Here is a link to a bigger version and other works.
http://50watts.com/Harry-Clarke-Poe-i...


message 25: by Rafael (new)

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 328 comments I am not sure that I understand this story but thankfully I am here to read your ideas.

I own a Brazilian edition of some Poe's works and it classifies this story as "the double" as "Ligeia". I am not sure why this story is thus classified.


message 26: by David (last edited May 28, 2020 09:57PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David | 2592 comments Rafael wrote: "I own a Brazilian edition of some Poe's works and it classifies this story as "the double"..."

Rafael, That is an excellent observation. I will just throw this out there and maybe someone else can run with it in more detail.
In literature, the term Gothic double refers to a duality within a character, mostly the protagonist or a major character, based on the presumption that this duality centers on the polarity of good and evil.
Apparently Poe used "doubling" quite often, including this story according to some supporting material I have read. Literary doubling here supports the suggestions posted here that the old man and the narrator are the same person, or the old man is the future self of the narrator, but the narrator, in yet another instance of doubling, cannot recognize the old man as himself despite his professed clarity of vision. This is signified by the old man not noticing the narrator even when he stands and faces him.

If this is the case, then does the narrator suggests in the end, without realizing it, that not being able to read the worst in himself is a mercy.


message 27: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1458 comments David wrote: "Literary doubling here supports the suggestions posted here that the old man and the narrator are the same person, or the old man is the future self of the narrator, .."

If the man in the crowd is the future self of the narrator, then the diamond and dagger hidden under his cloak possibly indicates the hidden potential in him (in each of us?) to be something positive, rare, and valuable (the diamond) or dangerous and violent (the dagger). The potential to go in either direction is there but neither one has been realized yet.


David | 2592 comments Tamara wrote: the diamond and dagger hidden under his cloak possibly indicates the hidden potential in him (in each of us?)"

Tamara, great call. I like the interpretation of the diamond and the dagger as the sybolic potential for good and evil, and as another example of literary doubling.

I was previously thinking the dagger marked him as a villian and the diamond was either ill-gotten gains from his villainy or some remnant from his past from which he is now fallen, similar to the description of his clothes, His clothes, generally, were filthy and ragged; but as he came, now and then, within the strong glare of a lamp, I perceived that his linen, although dirty, was of beautiful texture. . .. Doubling again.


message 29: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1717 comments In his 24 hours of tireless wanderings, the man does nothing evil or bad. Here's my idea: he's looking for a long-lost relative. Here's my other idea: he's pursued by a guilty conscience from some foul deed he has done. Here's my third idea: the point of the story is that you can never really know, and that may be a good thing.


message 30: by Ignacio (new)

Ignacio | 139 comments David wrote: "Rafael wrote: "I own a Brazilian edition of some Poe's works and it classifies this story as "the double"..."

If this is the case, then does the narrator suggests in the end, without realizing it, that not being able to read the worst in himself is a mercy."


I really like this interpretation. The theme of doubling or encountering one's double is one Poe loved and used in stories such as "William Wilson."

"The Man of the Crowd" is so strange and haunting. Have any of you seen Christopher Nolan's first movie, Following (1998)? It is very reminiscent of Poe's story. A young man follows people in the crowd in London but, unlike Poe's tale, this one has a dark twist. It is filmed in black and white and told in reverse order (like Memento).


Alexey | 288 comments Roger wrote: "Here's my third idea: the point of the story is that you can never really know, and that may be a good thing."

Cannot agree more, but it is so amusing to go through it layer after layer, version after version...


message 32: by Ignacio (new)

Ignacio | 139 comments Tamara wrote: "He frames the story by beginning and ending with the words that some things cannot be read. And then he flashes back to an incident in the past where he presumes to “read” people based on the way they dress, their demeanor, and facial expressions. He classifies them and makes judgments about them. That struck me as arrogant."

I don't see it as arrogant so much as a sign of his inquisitive mind, a mind that is so stimulated by his surroundings that he wants to penetrate their secrets and gets carried away. After an illness, he says he is in one of those "moods of the keenest appetency, when the film from the mental vision departs" and "the intellect, electrified, surpasses as greatly its everyday condition."

This story, from 1840, comes right before the "tales of ratiocination" such as "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" and "The Purloined Letter," where Poe invents the modern detective genre with the figure of Auguste Dupin (who influenced Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes). So I feel like he was exploring that particular form of awareness and ratiocination in this story, even if it ends in failure or inability to decipher the character.


message 33: by Ignacio (new)

Ignacio | 139 comments Thomas wrote: "I think what he's saying there is that he believes that he has achieved a new clarity of vision or insight."

I'm not sure how to take the reference to Leibniz. Leibniz is known as an idealist philosopher who developed a complex philosophical system but who was also satirized by Voltaire in Candide for his philosophical optimism (the idea that we live in "the best of all possible worlds").

Is there a hint of irony in Poe's reference to the "vivid yet candid reason of Leibniz"? Does the story hint at the ultimate failure of rationalist systems for apprehending reality, whether sophistic (Gorgias) or idealist (Leibniz)?


message 34: by Aiden (new) - added it

Aiden Hunt (paidenhunt) | 249 comments Alexey wrote: "Roger wrote: "Here's my third idea: the point of the story is that you can never really know, and that may be a good thing."

Cannot agree more, but it is so amusing to go through it layer after layer..."


Amen to that, Alexey. It’s quite the literary onion.


message 35: by David (last edited May 29, 2020 05:08PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David | 2592 comments Ignacio wrote: "'m not sure how to take the reference to Leibniz..."

I think the narrator is just saying he can see and understand more now by claiming that his intellectual capacity is greater now vs before, is like the enlightening rationalism of Leibniz vs. nihilistic rhetoric of Gorgias. Both are contradictory doubles. The point being the man's biorhythms must all be peaking at the same time.


message 36: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4409 comments David wrote: "Ignacio wrote: "'m not sure how to take the reference to Leibniz..."

I think the narrator is just saying he can see and understand more now by claiming that his intellectual capacity is greater no..."


Though it is interesting to see how much can be read into the details, just as the narrator might be reading too much into the appearance and behavior of the man he follows.

References to Gorgias and Leibniz and Homer (in Greek, no less) all in one sentence! What sorts of readers would follow up clues like these? (Rhetorical question, of course... ) The theme of the double is interesting in that sense as well. As we readers follow the narrator following the man, we become amateur sleuths ourselves.


David | 2592 comments Thomas wrote: "As we readers follow the narrator following the man, we become amateur sleuths ourselves."

So do the readers turn the double into a triple? I am not so sure about that, but I do know that I don't know plays third base. :)


message 38: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1717 comments In Poe's time, I think Gorgias, Leibnitz, and Homer were standard parts of college and high school curricula. Of course, in his time far fewer people completed high school than do today, let alone college.


Chris | 372 comments Wow, reading all of your insights reminds me of why I enjoy reading with this group. I rarely "see" all these things but once pointed out, I'm like...oh I got it now.

I must admit when I finished this, I thought it was an odd story compared to Poe's more well-known works. I did think the old man might be a criminal and adapted his demeanor to maybe not blend in with the crowd but be dismissed by the group as not important so he could perhaps follow a mark more easily. If I had seen that illustration I certainly would have thought him as a predator of some kind! On the other hand if I had known the translation of the quote at the top, I perhaps would have seen that he sought the crowds not to prey on someone but to try to mitigate his loneliness.

The narrator? It seems odd that he would follow this man for the length of time that he did. I thought that boy, he doesn't have a life! Then Tamara threw out the thought that the two may be one. Hmmm... Did he follow the man because there was something arresting in his countenance? Or because he recognized himself?

I liked the concept of doubling.

By the way, I LOVE people watching, And if I'm being honest, I do sometimes match a persona or story with a particular person from time to time.


message 40: by Aiden (new) - added it

Aiden Hunt (paidenhunt) | 249 comments Chris wrote: "Wow, reading all of your insights reminds me of why I enjoy reading with this group. I rarely "see" all these things but once pointed out, I'm like...oh I got it now."

I completely agree with you on the value of intelligent group discussion. I also think this story more than some of Poe’s better known works, makes you work a little harder. I saw the story so much differently on my second close read, paying attention to and looking up unfamiliar references and word choices.

I used to like Poe as an author of gothic stories whose meanings I could easily tell. I lost interest in him as I got older. I have to say reading and discussing this story renewed my respect and interest.


message 41: by Susanna (new)

Susanna | 137 comments Chris wrote: "By the way, I LOVE people watching, And if I'm being honest, I do sometimes match a persona or story with a particular person from time to time

Along with the other interpretations, I also took Poe's story as a comment upon how people watching is a good way for an author to get ideas for characters.


message 42: by Rex (new)

Rex | 3 comments David wrote: Apparently Poe used "doubling" quite often, including this story according to some supporting material I have read. Literary doubling here supports the suggestions posted here that the old man and the narrator are the same person, or the old man is the future self of the narrator, but the narrator, in yet another instance of doubling, cannot recognize the old man as himself despite his professed clarity of vision. This is signified by the old man not noticing the narrator even when he stands and faces him.

If this is the case, then does the narrator suggests in the end, without realizing it, that not being able to read the worst in himself is a mercy


This is what I took from the story, though stated much more eloquently than I could do. Poe being Poe it makes sense to me that the old man is some kind of projection of the narrator's.


message 43: by Jt (new)

Jt | 5 comments I wondered if Poe might be exploring addiction, what with the person he was following being driven by his needs, from place to place, in constant flight. He shrieks with joy as he enters the gin parlor, and then stalks back and forth and then is beyond despair when the owner drives all out and shutters the place.
Perhaps there is some pondering of the things which drive us.


message 44: by Rafael (new)

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 328 comments David wrote: "Rafael wrote: "I own a Brazilian edition of some Poe's works and it classifies this story as "the double"..."

Rafael, That is an excellent observation. I will just throw this out there and maybe s..."


Thank you, David, for this info. It never ocurred to me.


message 45: by Lily (last edited Jun 03, 2020 02:42PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5012 comments Since you all have given us 44 original comments, which have been fascinating to peruse, I am going to do something of which Eman would not approve, so this is with apologies, but for me, even though I am a not particularly a fan of Dickens, the discussion, in this particular week of tension in US history, raised such interesting questions of any American essence about Poe that I am going to share it here -- to comment upon or to ignore:
From The American Face of Edgar Allan Poe ed. by Shawn Rosenheim
https://books.google.com/books?id=SU-...

These are the words that have led me to post a link to this essay -- it is, of course, the author's contrast of them with those of Poe that may be of interest to some:

"Dicken's moral appeal is directed at the better-off, potentially hostile, segment of his community which he feels has blinded itself to the human reality of the impoverished undercultures of London and rests on the firm belief that all men are basically 'good' -- unthreatening to the dominant class -- and their drastic socioeconomic circumstances are the source of their misery and ultimately, their otherness." (p. 77 - Stephen Rachman)

(If the link doesn't work, for some reason or another, google [er lässt sich nicht lesen meaning] and select from the results returned.)


message 46: by Lily (last edited Jun 03, 2020 03:02PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5012 comments Before I took myself down the rabbit hole of the "meaning" of "er lässt sich nicht lesen", my original reaction to this interim reading was the similarity (and differences) of Poe's description of the passing of a crowd on London street with those of Woolf in her early The Voyage Out :

"As the streets that lead from the Strand to the Embankment are very narrow, it is better not to walk down them arm-in-arm. If you persist, lawyers' clerks will have to make flying leaps into the mud; young lady typists will have to fidget behind you. In the streets of London where beauty goes unregarded, eccentricity must pay the penalty, and it is better not to be very tall, to wear a long blue cloak, or to beat the air with your left hand.

"One afternoon in the beginning of October when the traffic was becoming brisk a tall man strode along the edge of the pavement with a lady on his arm. Angry glances struck upon their backs. The small, agitated figures— for in comparison with this couple most people looked small— decorated with fountain pens, and burdened with despatch-boxes, had appointments to keep, and drew a weekly salary, so that there was some reason for the unfriendly stare which was bestowed upon Mr. Ambrose's height and upon Mrs. Ambrose's cloak. But some enchantment had put both man and woman beyond the reach of malice and unpopularity. In his guess {?} one might guess from the moving lips that it was thought; and in hers from the eyes fixed stonily straight in front of her at a level above the eyes of most that it was sorrow. It was only by scorning all she met that she kept herself from tears, and the friction of people brushing past her was evidently painful. After watching the traffic on the Embankment for a minute or two with a stoical gaze she twitched her husband's sleeve, and they crossed between the swift discharge of motor cars. When they were safe on the further side, she gently withdrew her arm from his, allowing her mouth at the same time to relax, to tremble; then tears rolled down, and leaning her elbows on the balustrade, she shielded her face from the curious. Mr. Ambrose attempted consolation; he patted her shoulder; but she showed no signs of admitting him, and feeling it awkward to stand beside a grief that was greater than his, he crossed his arms behind him, and took a turn along the pavement.

"The embankment juts out in angles here and there, like pulpits; instead of preachers, however, small boys occupy them, dangling string, dropping pebbles, or launching wads of paper for a cruise. With their sharp eye for eccentricity, they were inclined to think Mr. Ambrose awful; but the quickest witted cried 'Bluebeard!' as he passed. In case they should proceed to tease his wife, Mr. Ambrose flourished his stick at them, upon which they decided that he was grotesque merely, and four instead of one cried 'Bluebeard!' in chorus."

Woolf, Virginia. The Voyage Out (p. 1). Kindle Edition.

Hmm... Do I remember some biographical entry that suggested Woolf was a reader of Poe?


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