The Waterfall, the Whirlpool, and the Stage "Boundaries of Americanness" in Poe's "A Descent into the Maelstrom"

The Waterfall, the Whirlpool, and the Stage "Boundaries of Americanness" in Poe's "A Descent into... Micah K. Donohue The Waterfall, the Whirlpool, and the Stage “Boundaries of Americanness” in Poe’s “A Descent into the Maelstrom” . . . and sending forth to the winds an appalling voice, half shriek, half roar, such as not even the mighty cataract of Niagara ever lifts up in its agony to Heaven. —Edgar Allan Poe, “A Descent into the Maelström,” 1841 Edgar Allan Poe never visited Niagara, but the falls nevertheless held “considerable allure” for the writer (Pollin 497).1 He seems most impressed by the (for Poe, imagined) sound of the “mighty cataract,” and he mentions the “roaring of Niagara” in tales and longer works of fiction such as “The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall” (1835) and “A Descent into the Maelström” (1841). In the latter text, Poe explicitly connects the Canadian-­ merican waterfall to the Scandinavian whirlpool. He was not the first author to do so: if not a standard comparison, neither was it unheard of for nineteenth-­ entury guidebooks and travelogues to contrast Niac gara Falls with the Norwegian Rjukanfossen (described as “la plus grande et la plus remarquable” waterfall in the world), or to compare the “tremendous whirlpool” of Niagara with Norway’s “celebrated http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

The Waterfall, the Whirlpool, and the Stage "Boundaries of Americanness" in Poe's "A Descent into the Maelstrom"

The Comparatist, Volume 41 – Nov 1, 2017

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © Southern Comparative Literature Association.
ISSN
1559-0887
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Abstract

Micah K. Donohue The Waterfall, the Whirlpool, and the Stage “Boundaries of Americanness” in Poe’s “A Descent into the Maelstrom” . . . and sending forth to the winds an appalling voice, half shriek, half roar, such as not even the mighty cataract of Niagara ever lifts up in its agony to Heaven. —Edgar Allan Poe, “A Descent into the Maelström,” 1841 Edgar Allan Poe never visited Niagara, but the falls nevertheless held “considerable allure” for the writer (Pollin 497).1 He seems most impressed by the (for Poe, imagined) sound of the “mighty cataract,” and he mentions the “roaring of Niagara” in tales and longer works of fiction such as “The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall” (1835) and “A Descent into the Maelström” (1841). In the latter text, Poe explicitly connects the Canadian-­ merican waterfall to the Scandinavian whirlpool. He was not the first author to do so: if not a standard comparison, neither was it unheard of for nineteenth-­ entury guidebooks and travelogues to contrast Niac gara Falls with the Norwegian Rjukanfossen (described as “la plus grande et la plus remarquable” waterfall in the world), or to compare the “tremendous whirlpool” of Niagara with Norway’s “celebrated

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Nov 1, 2017

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