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date: 27 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter investigates the influence of Jacksonian Orientalism on Poe’s description of the chasm glyphs in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. The essay focuses attention on two late additions to Pym, a second Chapter Twenty-three and the final “Note,” as well as on the influence of John Lloyd Stephens’s Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petræa, and the Holy Land on these late additions. “Rude Representation” argues that Poe uses these addenda to the final text to explore settler colonial racial politics, in general, and the construction of American whiteness, in particular. Ultimately, Poe’s story of polar exploration harnesses the tropes of discovery and revelation popularized in Near Eastern travel narratives, transforming the chasm scene into an examination of the domestic politics of Manifest Destiny. The essay concludes by considering Poe’s use of Arabic language in the context of Islamic hermeneutic traditions.

Keywords: Edgar Allan Poe, Pym, Orientalism, Manifest Destiny, settler colonialism, Arabic, chasm glyphs, travel narrative, John Lloyd Stephens

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