• Author: Edgar Allan Poe
• Genre: short story in the horror genre
• Title: The Imp of the Perverse
• Published: July 1845 in Graham’s Magazine
• Length of story: 4 pages [16 paragraphs]
• Published by Penguin Books
• Setting: 1830-1840’s in prison cell, narrator tells his story…how he got on death row
• Theme: an impulse forcing people to act irrationally
• The Imp of the Perverse is a short story that begins as an essay.
• It discusses the narrator’s self-destructive impulses, embodied as The Imp of the Perverse.
• Poe wrote it to justify his own actions of self-torment and self-destruction.
• Many of Poe’s characters display a failure to resist The Imp of the Perverse.
• Murder in The Black Cat
• Narrator in Tell Tale Heart
• The opposite is displayed in the character C. Auguste Dupin.
• He exhibits reason and deep analysis.
• Part 1 Is written in essay style mentioning subjects
• in philosophical terms (primum mobile, à posteriori) ), logic (phrenology) and mysticism (Kabbala)
• Poe cleverly reveals the ‘narrator’s own ‘imp’ by being so wordy!
• The narrator admits he has always wanted to anger the listener (reader) with confusing language.
• “The impulse increases to a wish, the wish to a desire, the desire to an uncontrollable longing….”
• “I am one of the many uncounted victims of the Imp of the Perverse.” (pg 281)
• Part 2 contains the narrators story….
• He inherits an estate after murdering its owner.
• He ends up on death row after a perverse impulse causes him to confess the murder.
• The Narrator: An apparently demented man who appears intelligent and well educated.
• The Listener: Unnamed person listening to the narrator’s story.
• Madame Pilau: Woman who died after inhaling the smoke from an accidentally poisoned candle.
• The Murder Victim: Unnamed person whose property passed to the narrator.
• Pedestrians: People who witness the narrator’s confession.
Style: first person point-of-view with an unreliable narrator
• Had I not been thus prolix, you might either have
• misunderstood me altogether or […] fancied me mad. (pg 283)
• This is a spirit that tempts a person to do things….they would normally not do.
• Poe explains that the ‘imp’ is an impulse in each person’s mind.
• Alliteration: laconic and luminous language (pg 281)
• Climax: Poe uses a climax words that are arranged to increase their importance.
• “The impulse increases to a wish, the wish to a desire, the desire to an uncontrollable longing, and the longing ( to the deep regret and mortification of the speaker and in defiance of all consequences) in indulged.” (pg 282)
Voice of Poe:
• Poe states we use the word ‘perverse’ without really knowing what is means.
• Perverse = headstrong, obstinate, contradictory
• Poe is a master when it comes to entering human thoughts.
• He describes how we ‘put off until tomorrow that we could do today’ because we are perverse.
• With each passing day the anxiety grows.
• I do exactly what Poe describes…
• when I have to make an appointment for the dentist!
• “The clock strikes, and is the knell of our welfare.” (pg 282)
Voice of Poe:
• In paragraph 6 we read one of the famous lines:
• “ We stand upon the brink of a precipice.”
• Poe describes the uncontrollable urge to jump.
• I could only think of the Austrian, Felix Baumgartner.
• In 2012 he stood who on the ‘precipice’ of space before making his famous skydive from the stratosphere!
• This is one of Poe’s lesser known works.
• I expected great writing and got loopy sentences going on and on about nothing!
• After further reading I realized this was Poe’s intention….to irritate the reader!
• The story just kept getting better and better.
• Weak point: the first 4 paragraphs are difficult to get through.
• This almost deterred and discouraged me…but I did not stop!
• Strong point: the story in itself is ‘perverse’ .
• Poe deliberately uses confusing writing and structure to irritate the reader.
• A writer usually wants to please the reader!
• Poe preforms this “perverse” act that defies logic and reason.
• I thought I would just breeze through 4 pages of The Imp of the Perverse.
• How wrong I was.
• I have read each and every word in this story…twice!!
• That is an accomplishment in itself.
• Below is a summation of each paragraph.
• Read it ….or read the story first ……your choice.
• I was surprised by the style, structure and plot.
• Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe are works of art….
• …and deserve a high score.
- Author: Scott Peeples
- Title: The Afterlife of Edgar Allan Poe
- Published: 2003
- Genre: non-fiction
- List Challenges 2019
- Monthly planning
- #RIPXIV @ReadersImbibingInPeril
The Man That Was Used Up: Poe’s Place in American Literature
- Reading time 1 hr 15 min
- Discussion: about Poe’s character by biographers in the the late 19th C
- his alcoholism, inability to sympathize, fickleness, ugly humor, ill- tempered
- Paradox: Poe was unappreciated, rejected….but
- …this aura of mystery was good for business (bookselling)
- Why is Poe considered the most characteristic American poet?
- — he was beaten down by American materialism
- — he did not copy the English literary tradition
- — he explored the pathological side of American temperament
- — he was curious, interest toward the most strange and odd mysteries
- Conclusion: Poe was torn to pieces by many biographers but in
- 20th C he has been rebuilt into an ever more fascinating public figure
A Dream Within a Dream: Poe and Psychoanalysis
- Reading time 1 hr 15 min
- Discussion: Psychoanalysis could inspire new,
- inventive ways of reading Poe.
- Helicopter view…
- of several writers who have psychoanalyzed
- Poe’s writing:
- L. Purette, D.H. Lawrence, Marie Bonaparte, J. Robertson, J. Krutch
- …J. Lacan and many more.
- …looking at the anatomy of Poe’s unconscious.
- Basically this essay is about ‘What made Poe tick?‘
- Some insights made by Bonaparte sounded a bit
- far-tetched “…when Poe was tempted by living women, drink
- cleared the way for ‘flight’ and kept him faithful to his dead mother.”
- Honestly, this essay was more about the analysts
- ….pages and pages about Lacan,
- …then Poe himself!
Out of Space, Out of Time: From Early Formalism to Deconstruction
- Reading time 1 hr 02 min
- Discussion: is about 1950s New Criticism
- ….the deficiencies and limitations of Poe’s work.
- Not every critic feel Poe’s works should
- allowed into the temple of high literary art.
- Critics Brooks and Warren state:
- “…when you learn to read more carefully you’ll see
- that he’s (Poe) only a little better than pulp fiction
- …you read for pleasure.”
- Emerson had famously called Poe “the Jingle Man”
- because his poems sounded jingly, gimmicky!
- Conclusion: The critics want to teach me how to
- read Poe….I wish they would just let me enjoy his
- writing instead of trying to dissect Poe with structuralism,
- Post structuralism, and Deconstructism mumbo jumbo.
- The essay was filled with themes and philosophical issues.
The Man of the Crowd: The Socio-Historical Poe
- Reading time 1 hr
- Discussion: In 1980s placing Poe’s text
- in question to other texts in the
- same period with emphasis on
- representations of race, gender and class.
- Conclusion: Again critics who insinuate the
- The Black Cat is figure for the abused slave
- …seems far-fetched.
Lionizing: Poe as Cultural Signifier
- Reading time 50 min
- Discussion: The pop-culture Poe
- Why has Poe proved so resilient over
- …150 years after his death?
- Peeples reviews books, plays, films and comics
- …entertainment derived from
- …Poe and his works.
- Conclusion: readable
- We all know the uses of research material is
- a vital component to writing.
- Scott Peeples has cited about 350 works to
- create these essays.
- That feels a bit excessive
- for 5 essays with reading times of 1 hour 15 min.
- Great thoughts yes, but there is much
- ….cutting an pasting of direct quotes throughout the essays.
- This results in a confusion of voices and disrupts
- the flow of information.
- The writer must do more than parrot information!
- I did cherry pick some good insights about Poe and
- his writing but it was a laborious task.
- …but you may enjoy this book!
- Author: Wislawa Szymborska (1923 – 2012)
- Title: Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts: Seventy Poems by Wislawa Szymborska
- Genre: poems
- Published: 1981
- Table of contents: 261 pages
- Trivia: Wislawa Szymborskawas awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 1996.
- Trivia: I could stare at Szymborka’s photo for hours!
- She looks like the cat that swallowed the canary.
- A person who appears self-satisfied especially
- …while concealing something mischievous.
- I saw an interview with Szymborska and
- …this is the still photo taken of it.
- She captured my heart with her ‘je m’en fiche’
- …( dont’ give a damn) attitude.
- With a cigarette in hand and swirling a glass of wine
- she commented on her life and poetry.
- When asked why she never published more than 350 poems?
- She answered:
- “I have a trash can in my home”.
- Her sense of humor and lack of pretentiousness,
- …that is what attracted me to her work.
Two Monkeys Brueghel
- I am not very good at interpeting poetry yet
- …and needed to research this poem.
- Szymbroska links the ‘control’ of the two monkeys
- to her situation and that of Brueghel.
- Brueghel painted this in 1562 while Spain
- dominated the two provinces The Spanish Netherlands.
- North: William of Orange became
- …stadtholder of Holland, Utrecht and Zeeland.
- South: Count of Egmont took charge of Flanders and Artois.
- Monkeys in chains is a symbol of repression and the
- ….background of Antwerp’s harbor is a symbol of freedom.
- Szymborska wrote this poem in 1957 as a condemnation
- ….of the repressive atmosphere of the Stalinist period.
Tone: is somber almost hopeless.
- “..beyond the window floats the sky and the sea splashes“
- …is a metaphor for freedom.
- Image of chained ‘animals’ looking out to the sea (freedom)
- …and not being able to free themselves.
- The speaker in the poem is taking a final exam in
- …“the History of Mankind” while the two monkeys look on.
- “One monkey stares and listens with mocking disdain,
- The other seems to be dreaming away–
- But when it is clear I don’t know what to say
- He prompts me with a gentle
- Clinking of his chain.”
- Words like “jingling chains,” the speaker who
- ‘ stutters and flounders’ or the description of
- the monkey’s ‘ ironic smile or dozing off
- ‘creates sense that any resistance was useless.
- Szymborska made me feel emotional because
- these animals represent the people who have become
- unemotional and with no voice under political repression.
- I asked myself: ” What would it feel like… being bound in chains?
Two Monkeys by Brueghel (trans. from the Polish by Magnus Kryski)
- I keep dreaming of my graduation exam:
- in a window sit two chained monkeys,
- beyond the window
- floats the sky,
- and the sea splashes.
- I am taking an exam on the history of mankind:
- I stammer and flounder.
- One monkey, eyes fixed upon me, listens ironically,
- the other seems to be dozing–
- and when silence follows a question,
- he prompts me
- with a soft jingling of the chain.
- It is said Szymborska is the ‘Mozart of poetry” .
- Her words are at times humorous yet powerful.
- By the 1950’s the political climate in Poland had changed considerably.
- Poetry was to become an extension of state propaganda and
- …a reinforcement of the official ideology.
- Nobel winner Szymborska (literature) did not include her
- …Stalinist poetry in her collected editions, she was too embarrassed.
- This was an excellent book and I would recommend it wholeheartedly.
- Coup de coeur!
- Author: Helen Garner
- Title: Everywhere I Look
- Published: 2016
- Genre: essays
- Rating: A+++++
- Trivia: 2017 Indie Book Awards WINNER non-fiction
- Trivia: 2018 longlist Kibble Literary Award for an established author
- Trivia: 2017 shortlist NSW Premier’s Literary Award
- List of Challenges 2019
- Monthly plan
- I immediately felt an connection with Helen Garner when
- reading this book.
- The years are creeping up on both of us and she describes
- moments I have gone through.
- 6 shoeboxes of old photographs
- that failed to make the cut for the album.
- and having to endure how young we looked
- I threw out all the photo’s and negatives
- ….just like Helen did!
Cleaning out closets…
- Storage room, drawers….just like Helen said
- “once you start you have to keep going til it’s done”.
- In July it took me 9 days to clean out my house from top to bottom.
- I hesitated when I had to throw
- out my favorite sweatshirt.
- It was 10 yrs old, fraying at the cuffs.
- It had to go but I still think about it!
- A house can be domineering,
- ….you have to get into the driver’s seat.
- Bed…is mother
- ...and bed is the center of our personal universe.
- It is the safe point from which we let
- …ourselves down in to the shadows of sleep.
- In August I finally decided to get a new bed…after 40 years!
- It is deluxe and I feel the arms of mother embracing me every time
- I go to sleep.
Dear Mrs. Dunkley…
- We all have a teacher that was unforgettable
- Who was yours?
Part Three: Dreams of Her Real Self
- So impressive thoughts about Helen Garner’s
- grandchildren, daughter, mother, father….
Authors I met in the book:
Elizabeth Jolley -Novels
- Palomino (1980)
- The Newspaper of Claremont Street (1981)
- Miss Peabody’s Inheritance (1983)
- Mr Scobie’s Riddle (1983)
- Milk and Honey (1984)
- Foxybaby (1985)
- The Well (1986)
- The Sugar Mother (1988)
- My Father’s Moon (1989)
- Cabin Fever (1990)
- The Georges’ Wife (1993)
- The Orchard Thieves (1995)
- Famous last line in this book:
- ‘The difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut is a week.’
- Lovesong (1997)
- An Accommodating Spouse (1999)
- An Innocent Gentleman (2001)
Janet Malcom (1934)
- American writer, journalist, staff writer The New Yorker
- Is the writer who influenced and taught
- Helen Garner more than any other!
- According to Garner, Janet Maclom draws on
- deep learning yet plain in its address.
- That is a perfect description of Garner’s writing as well!
- Jacob Rosenburg “Sunset West”
- Alex Miller – “Coal Creek”
- Raimond Gaita
- “Romulus, My Father” (Australian philosopher)
It tells the story of Romulus, his beautiful wife, Christina, and their struggle in the face of great adversity to bring up their son, Raimond. It is a story of impossible love that ultimately celebrates the unbreakable bond between father and son.
Best Film Australian Film Industry 2007
ORDERED THE MOVIE !!
- This was a book I did not want to end.
- Garner’s insights about Russel Crowe’s filmography
- and an Australian Ballet company were mesmerizing.
- But my favorite essay was ‘The Insults of Age”.
- This will be recognizable for every 60+’er!
- Helen Garner’s writing is clean and crisp
- ..nothing is slick or shallow.
- It is “reading caviar” !