The Monetary Imagination of Edgar Allan Poe

Banking, Currency and Politics in the Writings


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About the Book

In this first-of-its-kind treatment, Heinz Tschachler offers an account of Edgar Allan Poe’s relation to the world of banking and money in antebellum America. He contends that Poe gave the full force of his censure to the acrimonious debates about America’s money, Andrew Jackson’s bank war, the panic of 1837 and the ensuing depression, and the nation’s inability to furnish a “sound and uniform currency.” Poe’s attitude is overt in his early satires, more subdued in “The Gold-Bug,” and almost an undercurrent in writings that enter into and historicize the discovery of gold in California.
In Poe’s writings much is concealed, though his art also reveals while it conceals, in this instance, a deep felt desire for an authority that would guarantee a measure of permanence and continuity to the nation’ s currency. That kind of currency was finally furnished by Abraham Lincoln (both were born in 1809; Poe died in 1849), at one time a dedicated reader of Poe’s tales and sketches. Wielding his “power of regulation,” Lincoln came to save the Union not just militarily but also economically. Under him, the United States government finally provided the kind of “sound and uniform currency” that Poe in his writings could only name and rehearse.

About the Author(s)

Heinz Tschachler is a former professor of English and American studies at Alpen-Adria-University in Klagenfurt, Austria. He is the author of numerous books.

Bibliographic Details

Heinz Tschachler
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 230
Bibliographic Info: 26 photos, notes, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7583-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0583-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  ix
Preface  1
Prologue: “Y’all Don’t Know; But Poe Know”  7
1. Poe, the Critics and the Question of America’s Money  21
2. Captain Kidd’s Treasure and the Paper System: Questions of Trust  49
3. Capital Stories: Poe, the Banks and Politics  76
4. Poe’s Nightmares: Gold, Counterfeits and Literary Politics  109
5. Fables of Circulation: Poe, Civic Virtue and the “American System”  136
Epilogue: The National Currency and Methods in Madness  165
Chapter Notes  171
Bibliographic Essay  202
Index  211

Book Reviews & Awards

“provides a learned, impassioned, and, within the wider scholarship on Poe’s work, unorthodox, refreshing and inspiring study of a nineteenth-century U.S.-American author in his times”—Amerikastudien/American Studies.