Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 23 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Edgar Allan Poe’s literary reputation was founded upon his sarcastic and negative reviews of current books. While Poe’s reviews have been studied for insights into his literary theory and his relation to the culture of periodical publishing, they have rarely been considered as literary works themselves. This essay analyzes the structure and tone of Poe’s earliest “tomahawk”-style reviews in The Southern Literary Messenger and finds that they innovate a new tone of sarcasm, which Poe referred to as “quizzing,” through the adaptation of a primarily textual form of irony. By making fun of prefaces, plots, and grammar, Poe employs a new form of humor that capitalizes on the emergence of print reading as mass culture. Such humor severs letter from spirit not only for the sake of criticism but also to open the practice and pleasure of critical judgment to a popular audience.

Keywords: criticism, book reviews, humor, tomahawk, quiz, humor, periodicals, mass culture, Southern Literary Messenger

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.