As artists, both Poe and the French painter Édouard Manet stressed the importance of formal values over subject matter, and as a result, both appeared distinctly “modern” to their contemporaries. But where Poe strove to achieve a previously imagined psychological effect by calculated means, Manet recommended the direct observation of nature and resisted the interference of the imagination. Although the subjective and supernatural aspects of Poe's work did not appeal to him, Manet undertook to illustrate “The Raven” because (a) it offered a chance to practice Japanese pictorial techniques that “diminish illusionistic space,” (b) Mallarmé's translation of the poem into French weakened the subjective character of the original, and (c) he shared Poe's interest in the subject of death and the use of the noncolor, black.
M. Manet Declines to Illustrate the Invisible
louis marvick, Professor of French at the University of Nevada, Reno, received his doctorate from Columbia University in 1983. His areas of scholarly interest are fin de siècle French literature and the relationship of literature to music. In 2004 he published a book on poetry and music in the late nineteenth century. An article on “Mallarmé, Scriabin and the Passage from Erotic to Existential Anguish” appears in the current number of Letteratura e Letterature (University of Milan). His short novel, The “Star” Ushak, appeared in 2010, and a collection of his uncanny stories, Dissonant Intervals, was published by Side Real Press in 2016. A new novella, The Friendly Examiner, is forthcoming from Zagava Press in 2018.
Louis Marvick; M. Manet Declines to Illustrate the Invisible. The Edgar Allan Poe Review 1 April 2018; 19 (1): 28–38. doi: https://doi.org/10.5325/edgallpoerev.19.1.0028
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