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Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque

Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque

Edgar Allan Poe

Update: 2020-04-22


  • The epithets "Grotesque" and "Arabesque" will be found to indicate with
  • sufficient precision the prevalent tenor of the tales here published. But from
  • the fact that, during a period of some two or three years, I have written
  • five-and-twenty short stories whose general character may be so briefly
  • defined, it cannot be fairly inferred — at all events it is not truly inferred
  • — that I have, for this species of writing, any inordinate, or indeed any
  • peculiar taste or prepossession. I may have written with an eye to this
  • republication in volume form, and may, therefore, have desired to preserve, as
  • far as a certain point, a certain unity of design. This is, indeed, the fact;
  • and it may even happen that, in this manner, I shall never compose anything
  • again. I speak of these things here, because I am led to think it is this
  • prevalence of the "Arabesque" in my serious tales, which has induced one or
  • two critics to tax me, in all friendliness, with what they have been pleased
  • to term "Germanism" and gloom. The charge is in bad taste, and the grounds of
  • the accusation have not been sufficiently considered. Let us admit, for the
  • moment, that the "phantasy-pieces" now given are Germanic, or what not. Then
  • Germanism is "the vein" for the time being. To morrow I may be anything but
  • German, as yesterday I was everything else. These many pieces are yet one
  • book. My friends would be quite as wise in taxing an astronomer with too much
  • astronomy, or an ethical author with treating too largely of morals. But the
  • truth is that, with a single exception, there is no one of these stories in
  • which the scholar should recognise the distinctive features of that species of
  • pseudo-horror which we are taught to call Germanic, for no better reason than
  • that some of the secondary names of German literature have become identified
  • with its folly. If in many of my productions terror has been the thesis, I
  • maintain that terror is not of Germany, but of the soul, — that I have deduced
  • this terror only from its legitimate sources, and urged it only to its
  • legitimate results.
  • There are one or two of the articles here, (conceived and executed in the
  • purest spirit of extravaganza,) to which I expect no serious attention, and of
  • which I shall speak no farther. But for the rest I cannot conscientiously
  • claim indulgence on the score of hasty effort. I think it best becomes me to
  • say, therefore, that if I have sinned, I have deliberately sinned. These brief
  • compositions are, in chief part, the results of matured purpose and very
  • careful elaboration.