THE RAVEN AFFAIR


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The author was challenged to produce a poem, in the manner of The Raven , which should be accepted by the general critic as a genuine composition of Mr.

The Raven Affair

Poe's sic , and the 'Fire-Fiend' was the result. This poem was printed as 'from an unpublished MS. Poe,' and the hoax proved sufficiently successful to deceive a number of critics in this country, and also in England, where it was afterwards republished by Mr. Macready, the tragedian , [1] in the London Star , as an undoubted production of its soi-disant author. The comments upon it, by the various critics, professional and other sic , who accepted it as Mr. Poe's, were too flattering to be quoted here, the more especially, since, had the poem appeared simply as the composition of its real author, these gentlemen would probably have been slow to discover in it the same merits.

The author of this imposition was, according to the titlepage of the volume it appeared in, "Charles D. As another example of the ludicrously inane absurdities about Poe's Raven to which the American journals give publicity, may be cited the following communication, issued in the New Orleans Times , for July, , and purporting to have been sent to the editor, from the Rev. Daniels of Philadelphia. Some portions of the letter, it was alleged, could not be deciphered on account of its age and neglected condition:—.


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So perfect was it in all its parts that the slightest improvement seemed to me impossible. But you know a person very often depreciates his own talents, and he even went so far as to suggest that in this instance, or in any future pieces he might contribute, I should revise and print them in my own name to insure their circulation.

I signed my name to it and thus it went to the printer, and was published. I shall probably go to New York to-morrow, but will be back by Oct. The utter falsity and absurdity of this story need not detain us so long in its refutation as it did several of Poe's countrymen. It need not be asked whether such persons as the "Rev. Shaver," or "Mr. Daniels of Philadelphia," ever existed, or why Poe should make so damaging a confession of dishonesty and in slip-shod English, so different from his usual terse and expressive style, it is only, at the most, necessary to point out that far from publishing The Raven in The Review with his name appended to it, Poe issued it in The American Review as by " Quarles.

A myth as ridiculous as any is that fathered by some of the United States journals on a "Colonel Du Solle.

Du Solle quotes particular instances of phrases that were incorporated at his suggestion, and thus The Raven was a kind of joint-stock affair in which many minds held small shares of intellectual capital. At length, when the last stone had been placed in position, the structure was voted complete! Another class of forgeries connected with the would-be imitators of Edgar Poe's style is known as the "Spiritual Poems. Edgar Poe is a favoured subject with these "mediums," and by means of Miss Lizzie Doten, one of their most renowned improvisatrice, has produced an imitation of his Raven, which she styled the "Streets of Baltimore," and in which the departed poet is made to describe his struggle with death and his triumphant entry into eternity.

One stanza of this curious production will, doubtless, suffice:—. Vollin agrees and is successful; he befriends the spirited and grateful Jean, in the process revealing his passion for all things related to Edgar Allan Poe , including his homemade collection of torture devices inspired by Poe's works such as a pit, pendulum with crescent razor, shrinking room, etc. After Vollin reveals his growing love for Jean to her father, the Judge quickly discourages him from the affair.


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  4. Angered, Vollin hatches a plan when Edmond Bateman Karloff , a murderer on the run, comes to his home asking for a new face so he may live in anonymity. Vollin admits to not being a plastic surgeon, but says he can help Bateman, and asks him to help in exacting revenge on the Thatchers, which he refuses. Bateman explains that he feels his antisocial behavior is a result of having been called ugly all his life, and he hopes a new face may gave him a chance to end it. Vollin performs the surgery, but instead turns Bateman into a disfigured monster, promising only to operate again on Bateman when Vollin's revenge is exacted.

    Bateman finally reluctantly agrees. Vollin hosts a dinner party, among which Jean, Jerry, and the Judge are guests. One by one, the guests are caught in the Poe-inspired traps. Ultimately, Bateman is shot by Vollin as he rescues Jean and Jerry, but throws Vollin into the shrinking room where he perishes, and the guests escape.

    Universal's pressbook heavily focused on Karloff, calling him "the uncanny master of make-up," as well as the connection to Poe. The pressbook suggests that Poe's characters were "but a reflection of himself.

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    Too strong for tastes, with its themes of torture, disfigurement and grisly revenge, the film did not do particularly well at the box office during its initial release, and indirectly led to a temporary ban on horror films in England. In other words, from its beginning, Clouzot suggests that his camera moves and is alive, even as humans die. Furthermore, his camera can pass through gates — something that we also see humans do regularly in the film.

    Over the course of the film, we see people walking through doors or gates 64 times, with people opening but then not passing through doors twice. We hear doors opening and closing offscreen a further 7 times, with characters also passing through car doors twice.

    In other words, a tension is set up between the mobile camera that can go anywhere irrespective of boundaries, and humans who also travel, but who are very much restricted by boundaries. If the second shot of the film tells us that the camera is mobile and alive while humans are immobile and dead, then the enclosed rooms and containers that humans inhabit and use in some senses move humans towards immobility. This is not to mention the walls of the town, or the grilles and other objects that seem strongly to delimit space in the film.

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    This tendency to create divisions can also be understood through the importance of letters in the film, the postal service, and the way in which all letters are sent to an address. This is also linked to the idea of dress — as reflected in the stiff costumes that nearly every character wears, from Marie and Laura to the men who claim to run Saint Robin. That is, Germain has a repressed, or rather a fluid, identity.

    It is only through loving Denise that he can let go of the memory of his first wife and his lost child and learn to be himself again. It is only through accepting his own lack of straightness that Germain can move forward, or be alive. This is seen in the regular shots of characters speaking, but not looking at each other. Sometimes such as when Laura and Germain meet one evening by the walls to Saint Robin they positively look away from each other.

    We see each other not as people, then, but as symbols — as what we are supposed to mean as opposed to who we are.

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    This is also made clear by the gendered spaces of the film: the all-male club in which most of the men hang out in the evening, and the all-female shop from which Germain is excluded at one point. If Denise is honest in her lack of straightness her limp and her desire to get undressed , then she also is honest in her interactions with Germain. Perhaps it is also important that at one key moment in the film we see Denise from an impossible angle as she lies in bed with Rolande putting cups on her back.

    It is not that Denise or Germain are heroes in the film. Nonetheless, Germain is, ultimately, a figure who respects the crooked and un-straight path that is life, and which irrevocably involves death as a part of life.

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