As Moslemin their Shrouds at Mecca: The Arabic Repressions and Resurrections of Poe's Corpus

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Poe Studies: History, Theory, Interpretation



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I learned that the glimpse I had obtained of her person would thus probably be the last I should obtain-that the lady, at least while living, would be seen by me no more. For several days ensuing, her name was unmentioned by either Usher or myself: And during this period I was busied in earnest endeavors to alleviate the melancholy of my friend. We painted and read together; or I listened, as if in a dream, to the wild improvisations of his speaking guitar. And thus, as a closer and still closer intimacy admitted me more unreservedly into the recesses of his spirit, the more bitterly did I perceive the futility of all attempt at cheering a mind from which darkness, as if an inherent positive quality, poured forth upon all objects of the moral and physical universe, in one unceasing radiation of gloom. I shall ever bear about me, a memory of the many solemn hours I thus spent alone with the master of the House of Usher. A core passage within the Poe canon, these sentences from his most iconic "The Fall of the House of Usher" trace tensions central to Poe's entire career. Balancing beloved dualities—recollection-repression, visible-invisible, moral-corporeal—this passage is framed by a family polarity, enveloped by sister-brother. Opening with the final "glimpse" of Madeline Usher's "person," the above soon turns to her twin, Roderick, who is lastly memorialized as "the master of the House." These sibling dichotomies are essential to Poe's artistry; and aptly, it is artistry itself that emerges at their center. Surveying diverse media—music, literature, painting—the middle of this passage emphasizes Roderick's "improvisations" which synthesize physical and metaphysical, "pour[ing] forth" externally while intimating "the recesses of his spirit." [End Page 28] However, it is another dialectic—that of "memory"—that caps this passage. Accenting the "unmentioned" name of Madeline, Poe's unnamed narrator yet ends with his enduring recall. In a rather odd turn of phrase, the anonymous speaker testifies that he "shall ever bear about" him the "memory" of these "many solemn hours. "

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Department of English

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