Slavery In Edgar Allan Poe's Poetry

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3. A POLITICAL POSITIONING AND HISTORICAL READING OF POE To this very day, many critics have associated Poe with racism and viewed him as an apologist of slavery. Rowe, for example, declares that “Poe was a proslavery racist and should be regarded as such in whatever approach we take to his life and writings” (qtd. in Whalen, “Average Racism” 7). Similarly, Carboni believes that the writer “took a clear conservative Southern stance, openly defending” slavery (XVI). Along similar lines, Levin argues that Poe’s “letters and articles reveal him as an unyielding upholder of slavery, and … no great admirer of the Negro” (qtd. in Rudoff 64). Much of such reasoning originates from the controversial Paulding-Drayton review, a profoundly racist text that extols chattel slavery and whose authorship was commonly misattributed to Poe. However, as many scholars have contested, Poe was not the author of that review. Since the only document in which Poe allegedly declared his attitudes on slavery appears to be an unreliable source, the arguments in favor of his racism become …show more content…
As much as it is possible to draw some tentative conclusions, it seems like an impossible task to accurately determine Poe’s views on race, especially if regarding only the contested review or some biographical elements of his life. Although much of the critical debate has revolved around slavery, what the “dubious” writer thought about other issues also remains ambiguous as he never clearly expressed his attitudes. This ambiguity is only complicated with the fact that, during his life, he often migrated across the Mason-Dixon Line – born in Boston and raised in Virginia, he spent much of his career as a journalist and editor in the cities of Baltimore, Richmond, New York, and Philadelphia, “playing the national man of letters in the South and, on occasion, the exiled Southerner in the North” (Kennedy and Weisberg

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