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Poe on Composition: UPDATED

Updated: Aug 24


Respond to one of the questions below:


  1. Does Poe’s “The Oval Portrait” conform to his own aesthetic prescriptions in “On the Unity of Effect” and “On the Design of Fiction?” In other words, how are the elements of plot, effect, and dénouement working in the story (if you believe they’re all present)?

  2. Does "The Oval Portrait" reveal anything about the nature of art itself? Does the content of the story (i.e. the artist’s relationship to his subject, the kind of art he practices, etc.) have any bearing on Poe’s aesthetic principles?

  3. Some readers of Poe believe that his account of poetic composition in "The Philosophy of Composition" is downright improbable. They believe the essay is something of an authorial hoax. Would you agree with these readers, or do you have reason to believe in Poe’s sincerity (perhaps based on your reading of some of his other literary criticism or "The Raven")?

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