An Essay on the Philosophy of Composition

Topics: Edgar Allan Poe, Poetry, The Raven Pages: 4 (1436 words) Published: December 30, 2012
An Essay on The Philosophy of Composition by Edgar Allan Poe "The Philosophy of Composition" is an essay written by Edgar Allan Poe that describes a theory in which he discusses what process of writing leads to a successful poem or a narratative. E. A. Poe wrote this essay shortly after he had completed his masterpiece "The Raven" and it is indeed this very poem that he chose as an example to describe how to craft a poem according to his methods. "The Raven" as he says was an attempt to compose "a poem that should suit at once the popular and the critical taste. " The essay begins with a few words about a note lying before the author, referring to a note from Charles Dickens, who remarked that William Godwin, a philosopher and a novelist, wrote the second volume of his popular novel Caleb Williams, first and only after then he "cast about him for some mode of accounting for what had been done. " I think the purpose of writing this essay was to demonstrate, step-by-step,the ‘ instructions‘ on how to write a poem well and also, as Poe writes, that because of his interest of an analysis or reconstruction, he considered it his ‘desideratum‘ to describe the progressive steps of his composition. As Poe states, no other author has ever done so before because they would fear ‘letting the public take a peep behind the scenes‘. Poe advises us, that a writer must choose an effect before even putting pen to paper and also that he must always keep originality in mind. To create the desired effect he must then choose what tone and what incident would help him most in construction of that effect. Then he must decide what a suitable length would be , taking into account ‘the unity of impression‘ because as he says if the literary work is too long to be read at one sitting and the second sitting is required, affairs of the world interfere, thus the totality is destroyed. In Poe’s words, there is a certain limit – the limit of a single sitting – and it cannot be overlooked in...
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