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.

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