I'm not very far into The Poe Shadow and believe it or not, have never read any Poe, although I do plan to at least read "Murder in the Rue Morgue," which I have been told is a "locked door" mystery.
What has struck me most in the beginnings of my reading, is how different the style here is from The Dante Club. Poe Shadow seems much more introspective, a rather scholarly experience, where we are led step by step.
"Poe’s Dupin, in particular, seems to have been a major influence on Conan Doyle. The Rue Morgue murders require to be solved by the kind of rigorous (and sometimes lateral) thinking which Holmes specialised in (indeed, in the very first ever Holmes story (A Study in Scarlet) the debt to Poe and Dupin is expressly acknowledged when Watson says to Holmes, “You remind me of Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin”.) Arthur Conan DoyleLaura - thanks for the list of clues! Thank you for citing the page numbers too! That'll come in handy at some point. What did you think of the young woman in the back of the carriage with the Poe cousins...the one whose face resembled that of the girl in the death portrait - Poe's first wife. (p. 49) - Did you find that significant enough to be included as a clue? Or is it not yet tangible evidence? Hats - I think we'll have to wait for more on the identity of this Reynolds - unless of course I've missed something. It is significant that Poe called his name over and over in the hospital on the day he died. (Do you think that is fact - or Matthew's fiction?) Laura's list of clues is in the heading under "related links" - will try to keep up with it...if you all will point out clues when you spot them.
~ It's intersting that you separate Poe from the narrator in his Murders in the Rue Morgue by telling us that Poe knew little about legal affairs...but that the passage you have cited for us indicate that the unnamed narrator, rather than Dupin himself, is the lawyer.
~ It was revealing to me when you write that Poe will always be a mystery...does this mean that even when employing "ratiocination" his death will remain a mystery? You help us to understand the man when you tell us that Poe likely was not a very personable or very generous person. This makes Quentin's interest in him even more curious. He was more intrigued with him then?
~ It was really helpful to know that the letter regarding was from a real letter by Poe. And that all quotes from Poe are actual quotes (or reported quotes) from Poe. Thank you!!!
Laura, I'm glad to read your comments, also, about The Poe Shadow being able to stand alone, without having previously read Poe. I found that to be true with The Dante Club, loving the book, with without knowledge of the Inferno. However, I do wish, at this point, that I knew more about Poe's life. Well, I guess I should know where to find out.
I've just started reading the Dupin stories, and I think they will help me get more involved with the PS.
- the fire that was burning Poe's work, destroying Poe's work - before Quentin interfered to save it."Peace be to his ashes." Isn't this a strange choice of words? Poe wasn't cremated. He hasn't been dead long enough to have decomposed to ashes. I found it a jarring comment.
- The fire that destroyed Dr. Brook's house the day Poe planned to visit. The last time anyone saw Poe alive.
- The words of Poe's cousin (the first to appear at Ryan's Hotel and identify his body) - "Peace be to his ashes," says the cousin as Quentin is warned to let the dead rest.
Does YOUR copy of Poe's short stories include that circumflex over Marie Rogêt's name?Sorry, didn't mean to take so much space on that question - but it's driving me to ...cognac!
Is such a use of the circumflex acceptible - would the Academy approve?
Did Poe write it this way in error, and so everyone who produced his manuscript included the "ê" evermore?
I often say that everything I know, I know from reading Detective Stories. (not Kindergarten?) "And, in spite of endless years of formal schooling, it's almost true."pps - colkot - So happy you are "auditing. Love it when you "pipe up too!
"The Ravens' name was selected from the results of a Baltimore Sun poll. Chosen to honor the famous poet, it's believed that Edgar Allan Poe wrote his poem, "The Raven," while living in Baltimore in the 1830's. The Baltimore Ravens Mascot is Edgar, Allan and Poe!So, the question remains...were these three birds really ravens? How did they get to the baseball field. Anyway, they appear at football games as three Ravens, Edgar, Allan and Poe! More than you wanted to know, right?
Just a few hours before the Ravens pre-season game against the Philadelphia Eagles on August 24, 1998, the eggs began to shake vigorously and continued to do so for the hours leading up to kickoff. At that point, the nest was moved to midfield so Ravens fans could witness the hatching of these three mysterious eggs, and the birth of the team's mascots.
First to emerge from his egg was Edgar, the tall, strong, competitive Raven with long, flowing feathers, and sharp, pointy eyes.
Next, the skinny egg's top cracked off uncovering the short, skinny and agile Allan.
Finally, after some gentle pushes from Edgar and Allan, the final egg cracked. The chubby, lazy, but undeniably lovable Poe playfully waddled out of his egg. The Ravens - after spending two years without a mascot - finally had not one, but three official mascots, to the delight and approval of Ravens fans everywhere."
"I [Quentin] had my own image of Poe. A turned-down collar and black cravat, one arm thrown lightly over the back of his chair. He keeps a cold demeanor when at rest, reserving himself for private meditations and dreamings. The pale complexion suggests a nervousness that could arise at any moment. But upon finding someone near him who promised genuine interest, the gray eyes would turn a shade warmer, and standing at his full height – there he is, a fine slender figure in the middle of the room, straightening his black vest, straightening himself to about an average height, five feet eight, perfectly straight – here he would present a hand that was more delicate and beautiful than any woman's. His speech would be low, nearly a whisper, so that only if you lean forward, and exclude all other sounds from your attention, you are able to hear what he was saying and know opinions that he had told no one else about some popular politician or poem. If reciting a poem of his own to the room, he would not speak, he would positively sing, always perfect and pure in enunciation.Meanwhile, back to the published copy, we walk from the incident in the Jardin des Plantes with the chiffonier *edit, edit,edit* to the Café Belge...and the billiard table.
"Poe was small, smaller than you, my friend," Lowell said, talking at a theatrical volume that swatted aside his introspective mood. "I'd call his complexion Clammy- White. Fine, dark eyes, and fine head, very broad at the temples," he positioned his palms a fair width apart, "but receding sharply from the brows backwards – something snakelike about it. His manner was rather formal, even pompous, but I have the impression he must have been a little soggy with drink when I saw him. Not tipsy. But as if he had been holding his head under a pump to cool it."
"You have a quixotic sense of the honorable, Brother Quentin."Don Quixote's quest is tops on my mind this week as we wind up a 6 month journey with a man consumed with an impossible dream. Many thought, still think he was crazy. Can you see why some think Quentin has lost it - giving up his future while he concentrates on proving something of questionable merit?
"Has ultra metas requiescunt beatam spem specantes." This seems to have some letters missing.
"Has beatam spem expectantes is more like it, but the "Has" looks questionable too.
"expectantes" = we wait-
"beatam spem"= joyful hope,
So it seems to me to indicate that those who are buried here rest in wait with joyful hope.. Any Latin students out there?
"Of the first four, the only one that had not been outgrown by the time it was replaced was the celebrated Sun Iron Building, a five-story structure built in 1851 with design and construction concepts that made it the forerunner of the contemporary skyscraper. Located at the corner of Baltimore and South streets, the Iron Building was destroyed in the historic fire of 1904 that razed 20 blocks of the downtown area." Baltimore Sun Old Iron Building
"Bonjourier or Goupineur with the service road climbed the opened windows, the morning per hour of the breakfast, to nimbly serve, in the absence of witnesses, the silverware laid out on the table. Surprised in the course of visit, the intruder greeted and claimed to seek someone else. The courtesy of the robber with hello was worth the name of bonjourier to him."The above is the French translation Google provided - from a work by one Eugène François Vidocq. This gets interesting -
"Eugène François Vidocq was an 18th century French crook-turned-cop who was a confidant of at least two famous contemporary French writers and an inspiration for many others around the world. Victor Hugo based not one but two characters in Les Miserables on Vidocq - both Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert. Honore Balzac's character Vautran, in Pere Goriot, was also modeled after him.Also - I went back and reread what Matthew has said about our Bonjour - Though it was Duponte who informs Quentin that she has the reputation of "an assassin who calls out 'bonjour' before sending a knife through a man's heart" - did you notice he hastens to add - "this is mere speculation, for nobody living can confirm it." Ha! That's funny, but it also leaves the door open for her innocence. So the Baron got her off a murder charge by proving her innocent. That still doesn't make her a murderess, does it? I'm all for innocent until proven guilty!
Vidocq's legendary crime-solving reputation was also lauded in Poe's Murders in the Rue Morgue and in Herman Melville's Moby Dick. The fugitive in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations was also inspired by Vidocq's real-life exploits.
Vidocq's life story is amazing. As a fugitive from French justice, he first offered his services as a police spy and informer. Later, he became so successful at catching criminals that he was named the first chief of the Sûreté, in 1811. Vidocq eventually directed a force of 28 detectives, all of whom were also former criminals.
Eugène François Vidocq is considered by historians and those in law enforcement to be the father of modern criminal investigation. More on Vidocq
"Ratiocination, Noun. The act of deliberate, calculated reasoning through the imagination and spirit; the intimate observation and forecasting of the complexities in human activity; especiall6y the frequent simplicty in that activity. Not interchangeable with mere "calculus" or logic.""Laura - of course you are right - I had no logical reason to conclude that the Baron had somehow put fear into Hattie. My imagination got the better of me - no facts, no logic involved. The fact that the Baron is described as such a chameleon - and has been so successful at influencing the Baltimore readers to pick up Poe - I guess I endowed him with superhuman powers. Why couldn't he infuence Hattie - or her aunt? But there are no facts to support my conclusion.
Secret Chapters Following Chapter 10- Part I
I noted this in the Secret Chapters -"The ratiocinator appears to those uninitiated observers to possess powers that are nearly divine – or demonic – divine, I say, because it is a talent wholly inaccessible for most."Does the Baron display any powers of the ratiocinator in these chapters? Does Quentin?
"There were still others, but the main slave dealer of them all was Hope H. Slatter, originally from Clinton, a small town about fifteen miles northeast of Macon, Ga.
Slatter was in the slave business in Baltimore at least as early as 1835. An advertisement of his on February 2 of that year in the Baltimore Republican and Commercial Advertiser shows that at that time he wished "particularly to purchase several seamtresses and small fancy girls for nurses."
During July, August and September of 1838 Slatter ran a series of twenty-seven lengthy advertisements to The Sun. The wording in several of these notices varied slightly, but they all referred to the new building which he had just erected." Hope Slatter
"In addition to serving as physical locales, Baltimore and Paris may be said to serve as "characters" in the book. What do the cities add to the novel, and what kinds of details bring alive their histories?"How would you describe the character of the residents of Baltimore? To simplify, I think we'd have to say that Baltimore wears two faces. JoanK writes "The attitude of those Whites living at the time is full of contradictions. Many Northerners hated slavery as an institution, and were sympathetic to Black individuals whom they knew, but were very prejudiced toward their idea of Blacks in general. " Joan, do you consider Baltimore, your Maryland, North or South? "The situation of Blacks in Baltimore: the cruelty, lack of humanity," - yes, I agree with you, this is how Matthew has portrayed them in Poe Shadow. But where was Poe on the slavery issue? That is the confusing question du jour.
"Poe did not write much about the slavery question," I [Quentin/Matthew P.] said. "He was not a writer for any abolitionist causes." In fact, it had always seemed to me that Poe never liked causes at all, automatically believing them hypocritical. Yet he did this in your situation, forging hundreds of dollars, at a time when he was entirely poor and without support."
Edwin replied, "It is not a question of what a man writes...It is a question of what a man does that says who he is...I loved him for it and love him still." p. 248
In The Purloined Letter D- is startled by a gunshot in the street. While he goes to investigate. Dupin switches D-’s letter for a duplicate. The man with the gun is in Dupin’s pay.This will all make more sense in the final chapters - when Quentin has to consider when it would be better if the truth is never revealed! We're getting real close to "spoiler" time...and I want us to enjoy hanging on the cliff for another day!
The narrator asks Dupin why he bothered to leave a duplicate. Dupin replies that, if he did not, he probably wouldn't’t have left the hotel alive! As a political supporter of the Queen, he hopes that when D- produces the unopened letter it will mean the minister’s downfall. For the letter he left contains an insulting note - which points to the guilt of both parties - just as Atreus and his twin brother, Thyestes are both guilty of the murder of their step-brother.
"The exact details of Poe's condition and treatment here are left to us only in the writings of his attending physician, Dr. John J. Moran. Unfortunately, Dr. Moran (who seems to have given up medicine after 1851 and was briefly the mayor of Falls Church, Virginia), appears to have made quite a career from 1875 until his own death in 1888 lecturing on Poe's final days, the story growing more elaborate and intriguing with each telling. Washington Hospital"It doesn't sound as if Dr. Moran had any medical evidence, but was simply conjecturing... years later on another possibility that would explain the sudden decline in Poe's health. I have a question - can pigs be rabid? Did you notice how they scavenged garbage in the area around Ryan's Hotel?
In your research have you encountered the term, "ratiocination" anywhere other than in Poe's work? Was this term something with which Poe's 19th century readers would have been familiar?Thanks, Matthew!
Has your research provided any insights into Poe's views on slavery?
While writing about Baltimore and Paris in the Nineteenth century, which place did you enjoy researching and writing about the most and why?
When writing a book are the chase and fight scenes, where there is rapid movement all around, are these the hardest scenes to write? Are these scenes easier to write than other scenes?
Also, did Poe really carry around a malacca cane? I didn't expect a sword to be hidden inside the cane? Did most classy, sophisticated men carry this cane?
After writing about her, do you feel she is too angelic? Did you ever think about changing Hattie and making her a partner sleuth for Quentin?
"When researching a primary subject for one book, do you have to stop yourself from becoming overly involved with other titillating facts, secondary information?"I'm really interested to learn more about the Bonapartes in Baltimore at this time. Did I read somewhere that the divorced Bonaporte (annulled?), Elizabeth Patterson lived there - with her children? Is that right? Certainly a lot of intrigue in Baltimore at the time - that I didn't expect. Maybe it was the whole Napoleonic upheaval in France AND its overflow to America- Baltimore, that captured Poe's imagination and led to his writing of the Dupin Tales?
"It is not much more than a guess, you will say, but sometimes that is all that is there, Monsieur Clark, to make sense of events. We speak of the word as inferior to trained practices of reasoning--in fact, to guess is one of the most elevated and indestructible powers of the human mind, a far more interesting art than reasoning or demonstration because it comes to us directly from imagination."Hats - that's it - that's the quote I was referring to yesterday. Did the Baron use his imagination in reaching his conclusions about what happened on Poe's last day? Yes, it was certainly "plausible" as Laura says. Quentin might have used his version in his defense and folks would have believed it. He feels that they would have believed Duponte's "guess" too - but then how would Duponte have returned to Paris? Wouldn't he run the risk of being hunted down and assassinated?
More on Elizabeth Patterson - and the annulment -Back in a bit - (someone is looking for his dinner!) You've brought up some really good points...I don't feel we've finished just yet, do you? Laura made a great observation about Quentin's decision, and who might have been hurt - and Babi on his obsession and his father, JoanK on the Shadow of Poe. We need to talk more about this. Can you believe that Quentin will happily settle down to practice law now?
Epitaph on Elizabeth Patterson's tombstone: "After life's fitful fever she sleeps well."" Betsy's ambitions must have risen in 1848 when the Bonapartes returned to power in France. Bo, by now Col. Bonaparte, was a friend of the new ruler, Louis Napoleon. But circumstances were still not to favor her aspirations. Her former husband Jerome, the ex-King of Westphalia, objected to Napoleon, in a gesture of reconciliation, referring to his American cousin as Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1855, Napoleon offered Bo the title of Duke of Sartene as a way to solve the family feud. Bo turned him down."Another note on Jerome ->"Readers may be interested to know how Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte happened to be in Baltimore, Maryland, to have a pair of askoi made for him by the silversmith Samuel Kirk. Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte was the grandson of Napoleon Bonaparte and the son of his youngest brother, Jerome, who was sent to the West Indies at the turn of the nineteenth century. On a visit to the United States in 1803, he met and married Elizabeth Patterson of Baltimore. silver askoiMarni - Yes, I think you are right - it wasn't the fact that Elizabeth P. was Jewish - but that she was so young and as you say - Napoleon wanted him to make a political European match that would help ensure Napoleon's power"- someone titled, someone who would overcome the family's Corsican roots.
"The relations between the Church and France declined following the Pope's refusal to divorce Jerome Bonaparte and Elizabeth Patterson in 1805. The newly-crowned emperor of France restarted his expansionist policies and assumed control over Ancona, Naples (following the Battle of Austerlitz, making his brother king), Pontecorvo and Benevent. The changes angered the pope, and following his refusal to accept them Napoléon, in February 1808, demanded he subsidize France's military conflict with the United Kingdom. The pope again refused leading to further confiscations of territory such as Urbino, Ancona and Macerata. Finally in 1809, on 17 May, the Papal states were totally annexed and Pius VII was taken to Fontainebleau." The pope refused
First of all, the weather was a disappointment, as you can see. Isn't Poe's Baltimore supposed to be foggy and mysterious?
I thought you might enjoy ratiocinating what the City of Baltimore intended with this street sign?
We came early anticipating a huge crowd for the Baltimore Ravens/San Diego football game. (They won! Are we to "CAW"? Caw, caw, Ravens!)
Our first stop was the Poe burial ground. Unfortunately the gate was locked, though there was a sign saying it was open two hours earlier.
It was eerie the way the sun was shining right on Poe's tombstone - and only Poe's stone at that hour of the morning. I took this photo through the iron fence. Can you see the three dried roses at the base?
Behind the stone, there's a plaque on the fence, a tribute written in French from Poe's French friends.
This inscription is on the back of the tombstone.
On the same tombstone, you find these inscriptions for "Muddy" and Virginia. For some reason I found them more moving than Poe's. They suddenly became real people rather than characters from a book
Later in the afternoon on the way home we saw that the gates were open and stopped again - notice that the flowers are accumulating.
Matthew says this occurs to makr the anniversary of Poe's death.
Poe is very much alive in Baltimore! There were nearly a dozen bunches of flowers around the grave.
Don't you think that's amazing over 150 years after his death?
Unfortunately the Poe Home wasn't open, though it had a sign to knock at the hour that we were there.
I had hoped for some sign that Poe had actually lived here. The little dormer window on the roof was supposed to have been his room - or was it Virginia's...
But just standing outside gave me an eerie feeling to think that he had gone up and down these same old steps and entered through the little door and fallen in love with the little girl who lived there with her mother.
Here's another statue of Poe - this one is spectacular, wonderfully done by Moses Ezekiel nearly 100 years ago. The eyes follow you no matter where you stand. Can you read the marker?
TO DREAM BEFORE"
The highlight of the trip was the Baltimore Book Festival and meeting up with Matthew again. It is an amazing experience just listening to him speak of the book we have been disecting for the last month.
As you can tell from this photo - Matthew really gets into his topic and his enthusiasm is contagious!
Note his little Edgar doll - a gift from an admirer. You probably can't see the little raven velcroed on the doll's shoulder.
Nearly all, if not all of the questions during the Q&A period centered on Poe's last days. That's understandable - in Baltimore, but I would have liked to hear more about Matthew's book, his creation, his characters too. I mean, there was no way to ask him the question about "the kiss" and how Bonjour escaped getting poisoned herself!
Nor was there time to ask Matthew those personal questions that might have caught him off guard.
Clearly there are parallels between Quentin and Matthew. Quentin has had an epiphany - probably more than one, and has come to a better understanding of himself through his research into Poe's work, into the way Poe's mind worked. Now he is able to go back to his law practice with renewed interest and focus.
Matthew, can you share with us whether you have been affected by Poe, having lived so closely with the man for the last three years? Have you come away from the experience with new insights or self-understanding?
We can't thank you enough for the gift of your precious time, Matthew.
As it turns out, today, October 2 is a red letter day.
We won't ask you the personal question - "how old are you now" - but just sing"
Happy Birthday, Matthew Pearl
...and THANK YOU!