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The Porous Sanctuary

Art and Anxiety in Poe's Short Fiction

Series:

William Freedman

The Porous Sanctuary argues that the resistance to interpretation discovered by increasingly frequent deconstructive readings of Poe’s short fictions can be interpreted psychologically rather than deconstructively. The various strategies of obfuscation and evasion, conscious or otherwise, that permeate the texts serve to obscure intimidating realities typically associated with woman and the female body, which the narratives glimpse and recoil from. For Poe, art was a sanctuary from such unpalatable realities, but it was a porous one, relentlessly invaded by what it was designed to exclude. The tales, self-reflexive in this sense, typically narrate the struggle between the autotelic insularity of the work of art and the assaults of a menacing reality upon its penetrable walls.