Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Studies In Art And Imagination In Times Of Transcendental And Transformational Spiritual And Economic Upheaval And Crisis

“Eureka (1848) is a lengthy non-fiction work by American author Edgar Allan Poe which he subtitled "A Prose Poem," though it has also been subtitled as "An Essay on the Material and Spiritual Universe." Adapted from a lecture he had presented, Eureka describes Poe's intuitive conception of the nature of the universe with no scientific work done to reach his conclusions. He also discusses man's relationship with God, whom he compares to an author. It is dedicated to the German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt. Though it is generally considered a literary work, some of Poe's ideas anticipate discoveries of the 20th century. Indeed a critical analyisis of the scientific content of Eureka reveals a non casual correspondence with modern cosmology due to the assumption of an evolving Universe. Poe's suggestion that the soul continues to thrive even after death also parallels with works in which characters reappear from beyond the grave such as "Ligeia." The essay is oddly Transcendental, considering Poe's disdain for the movement. He considered it his greatest work and claimed it was more important than the discovery of gravity.

Eureka was published in a small hardcover edition in March 1848 by Wiley & Putnam priced at 75 cents. Poe persuaded George Palmer Putnam, who had previously taken a chance on Poe by printing his only novel 'The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket' in England, to publish Eureka after claiming this work was more important than Isaac Newton's discovery of gravity. Putnam paid Poe fourteen dollars for the work. Poe suggested an initial printing of at least one million copies; Putnam settled on 750...

Text and image credits: Wikipedia. With thanks.


The Living Theatre begins its 2008-2009 season with the limited run of Judith Malina and Hanon Reznikov's Eureka!, based on an Edgar Allan Poe essay about the origin of the Universe. The production is directed by Judith Malina and features an original score by Patrick Grant.


The Great Chartist Meeting on Kennington Common, April 10, 1848, photograph taken by William Kilburn. Black and white photograph with applied colour. Original at Windsor Castle.


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