This article addresses the uniqueness of Aubrey Beardsley’s late nineteenth-century Poe “illustrations” as works that enjoy a complex relationship with the writer’s theory of graphicality—specifically the dichotomy that exists between exteriority and interiority in both text and image. This essay posits that Beardsley’s use of vague open-endedness (in terms of visual narrative) was deliberately intended to reside in tandem—but not supersede or compete with—the graphicality of Poe’s words. By theorizing the exteriority/interiority binary around two Poesian themes—decay and speciesism—this study seeks to explain how the iconography of Beardsley’s images is at the very crux of graphicality, especially as this concept applies to writing-as-art and the art of illustration.

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