Literary Precedents for Ligeia

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Poe's art derives from the Gothic tradition, a genre popular in his own time. Critic Julian Symons notes, "The Gothic novelists wanted to arouse in their readers feelings of terror and delight at the horrific plight of the central character, and they used mysterious events to enhance these feelings." Gothic writing veered into violent crime literature and ghost stories, and employed creaky mansions, malevolent characters, and deadly secrets. Poe parodies the Gothic style in his "How to Write a Blackwood Article," named for the popular Scottish monthly Blackwood's Magazine. Poe depicts Mr. Blackwood himself explaining to a spellbound disciple how to write the type of story he publishes: "There was 'The Dead Alive,' a capital thing!—the record of a gentleman's sensations when entombed before the breath was out of his body—full of taste, terror, sentiment, metaphysics, and erudition. You would have sworn that...

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This section contains 335 words
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Buy the Ligeia Study Guide
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