A World of Words: Language and Displacement in the Fiction by Michael J. S. Williams

By Michael J. S. Williams

"A international of phrases" deals a brand new examine the measure to which language itself is a subject of Poe's texts. Stressing the methods his fiction displays at the nature of its personal signifying practices, Williams sheds new mild on such matters as Poe's characterization of the connection among writer and reader as a fight for authority, on his wisdom of the displacement of an "authorial writing self"; via a "self because it is written"; and on his debunking of the redemptive homes of the romantic image.

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TS 235; emphasis mine). Thus the coherence of his conscious self-reflection is violated by subconscious forces that his Lockean definition attempts but fails to exclude from the self. Moreover, as Martin Bickman has shown, Morella herself can be read as having "her ultimate origin in the narrator's own psyche,"22 and whether we follow Bickman's Jungian reading or a Freudian reading, Morella's return as a return of the repressed clearly operates as a fundamental critique of the narrator's concept of the self.

Just as this attempt apparently fails to halt the return of his wife in the body of his daughter, so his investment in a Lockean definition of personal identity founders as its limitations are explored. "19 The narrator of "Morella" also emphasizes "the consciousness which always accompanies thinking" as constituting "that which we call ourselves" (TS 231). Thus the self is equated with an act of self-reflection, an equation based on the assumption that the self's motives and thought processes are available to its own scrutiny.

To the narrator of "Morella" it seems as if this possibility has become a reality. He claims that he is disturbed less by the "strange ... -when the lessons of experience fell from the lips of infancy? " (TS 233, 234). The return of Morella's consciousness in the body of her daughter would seem to offer the narrator an optimistic prognosis of the survival of a personal essence apart from the individual body. What then is the source of his terror? At first, he can accept the child's "perfect resemblance" to "her who had departed," but the phrase "perfect resemblance" (emphasis mine) augurs the collapse of the difference inherent in the concept of similitude.

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