• Poe's Last Jest: The Magazine Prison-House, Colonial Exploitation, and Revenge in "Hop-Frog"

    John Gruesser (see profile)
    LLC 19th-Century American, TC Postcolonial Studies, TC Race and Ethnicity Studies
    Poe, Edgar Allan, 1809-1849, Periodicals, World politics, Disabilities, Dwarfism, Imperialism, Short stories, Marginalia, Said, Edward W.
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    2023 MLA Convention
    Conf. Org.:
    Conf. Loc.:
    San Francisco
    Conf. Date:
    January 5-8 2023
    Poe, Edward W. Said
    Permanent URL:
    As I have done in connection with another tale about vengeance Edgar Allan Poe published two and a half years earlier, “The Cask of Amontillado,” in what follows I offer a generalized biographical interpretation of the 1849 story “Hop-Frog,” linking it to Poe’s February 1845 essay “Some Secrets of the Magazine Prison-House” and his September 1845 Marginalia piece about the sorry state of the American publishing industry. Contending that the tale must be read vis-à-vis not only enslavement and slave rebellion (that is, in a domestic context), as several critics have done, but also colonization (that is, in an international context), I cast doubt on claims that Poe used the tale to settle scores with personal enemies or revenge himself on the reading public. In making this argument, I heed Edward W. Said’s call for critics to “read the great canonical texts, and perhaps the entire archive of modern and pre-modern European and American culture, with an effort to draw out, extend, give emphasis and voice to what is silent or marginally present or ideologically represented.” In a brief coda, I argue that in “Hop-Frog” Poe avenges himself on those responsible for his own exploitation as “a poor devil author” and the colonization of American literature generally while counterbalancing the gruesome, fiery climax with a celebratory (and what proved to be a valedictory) compendium of many of his greatest hits through allusions to at least eleven of his writings published between 1835 and 1846.
    Last Updated:
    1 year ago
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