Saturday, April 11, 2009

Poe Friday (on Saturday)

This week's dose of Poe is the short story, The Oval Portrait. (Read the full text here.) In just a very few paragraphs, Poe tells us the story of a man who has moved to the mountains to recover from a wound. While in bed, he becomes enamoured of a portrait of a beautiful young woman hanging on the wall. He finds a book which tells the story of the portrait - a story of a talented artist so wrapped up in his work that he ignores his wife, who eventually dies from neglect.

I thought this story was very interesting, and perhaps one of the most illuminating of Poe's own life. By the time of it's publication, his beloved wife Virginia would have already become ill. I can imagine the struggle he felt between the writing he had to do make a living, and the time he wanted to spend with his wife before she died. I can also imagine the resentment for the poetry that filled his head, but could barely pay the bills.

It's an interesting little story, and I felt the Poe "moodiness" more than in some of the other lesser know stories we've read. This short story could very well have inspired some of the elements of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, as well as Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Birthmark.

Next week, we tackle something longer - The Murders in the Rue Morgue. Poe Fridays is hosted by Kristen at WeBeReading.


mar10123 said...

Wonder what the narrator's "desperately wounded condition" from the 1st paragraph was - wounded in body, mind, or spirit?

Kristen M. said...

I totally thought of Dorian Grey while I was reading the story as well except it was the opposite, right? It took all of the goodness and life out of her. Tragic!

Aerin said...

Elizabeth my blogger-Paperback-Swap-buddy, I'm passing out awards!

Zibilee said...

Every time I read this feature, I think to myself that I have to really look for a good collection from Poe. Can you recommend one that is good?