College of Liberal Arts

Department of English

 

Albert J. von Frank

"'MS. Found in a Bottle': Poe's Earliest Debt to Tennyson"

The reference to a kraken in "MS. Found in a Bottle" (1832) likely fixes the date of Poe's first acquaintance with the poet who became his lifelong favorite, Alfred Tennyson. Though no volume of Tennyson's poems would be published in America for another ten years, Poe almost certainly encountered the text of "The Kraken" in the spring of 1832 in Christopher North's lengthy notice in the Edinburgh Review. By pairing Tennyson's black kraken with Coleridge's white albatross in a single crucial sentence, Poe defined the upper and lower limits of the apocalyptic imagination. His exploration of the downward aspect of this polarity provided a rich symbolic vocabulary with which to explore the psychology of race relations in the immediate aftermath of Nat Turner's revolt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

     

     

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