Claire Pujol


Essay on the use of Art in Edgar Allan Poe's work 


 Based on Claire Pujol's '' THE TELL-TALE  ART '' Mémoire de Maîtrise 2003,

 Département du Monde Anglophone, Université de Toulouse Le Mirail

Work under publication by Homo Ecumenicus Publishing


Author's introduction

As he infuses architecture and painting in his literary work,  Poe urges us to grasp the unity which gathers these three arts. As one is acquainted with Plato's theories of the Forms, one realises that Poe wanted his readers to discover a greater unity, that of the universe. In order to grasp Poe's message, one has to follow the steps of Plato's prisoner of The Myth of the Cavern. Just like him, we have to untie our bonds and realise Poe's use of art is a mere shadow. Then, we must look back at the fire which generates this shadow. We must try to understand the unity, the Idea, which gathers the three arts. Only thus will we be able to contemplate a greater Form, the greatest of all: truth itself, which is for Poe, nothing else but Plato's Good.



Table of contents

   In his work, Poe chose to focus on fear, on death, because it is the origin of all passions. Poe tries to lead the readers into solving mysteries reasonably, and urges them to use reason to control their fears, and consequently their passions. As you read Poe's horror stories, you understand there is always a rational explanation to the weird events described. Every strange phenomenon can be explained by science or deductive reasoning.



 Specificities of Gothic Architecture



. Irregularity



A relevant choice for Poe





 Deadly architecture


The coffin

 The enclosure and the mind


 Architecture as a metaphor for the mind

 The ontological metaphor

 A study of “ The Fall of the House of Usher ”

The image and Plato

II Literature and Painting : “ sister arts ”

Poe and Art

Poe's theories on art

 Poe, the Academician

The narrator as the art critique

 Writing and Painting

 The self-portrait

 The tableau

 Composition and enunciation :

 The deixis

  The pen and the brush

 Plastic signs

The pictorial description



 The symbolism of colours

 The colours of life


III      The collage

 Art as an imitation of nature



 Poe's work

Refusing boundaries


The literary effect





     Poe teaches his readers how to prevent the body from ruling over the brain, and then how to be masters of their mind. Once they have become reasonable beings, once they are no longer governed by passions, they no longer behave individually and they must find another way to survive.


Other works by Claire Pujol

  short stories                       drawings

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Links to online resources for Poe's work

A list in alphabetic order of all Poe's works, and complete texts derived from the Univ. of St. Louis Electronic Editions. Available at:

The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore ongoing project offering all versions of Poe's written works online.   

Several of Poe's texts at: Project Gutenberg

The House of Usher's project offering online all French translations of Poe's work by Charles Baudelaire (1856).

Poe's Biography and selected works from the National Historic Site

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