The Urban Body in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Man of the Crowd”

Yazıcıoğlu S.

in: Environment and Fiction, Özden Sözalan,İnci Bilgin Tekin, Editor, Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., Berlin, pp.17-31, 2020

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Publisher: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.
  • City: Berlin
  • Page Numbers: pp.17-31
  • Editors: Özden Sözalan,İnci Bilgin Tekin, Editor
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


Jonathan Arac writes, “Poe’s life is a tale of five cities: Boston, Richmond, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York” (63). Poe actually lived in these cities, and he also mentioned them in his writing; however, his relation to the city exceeds these five specific locations, and extends to the cities of the world, such as Bombay in “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains”, Paris in “The Murder in the Rue Morgue” and “The Mystery of Marie Roget”, and London in “The Man of the Crowd”. Poe’s cities are, therefore, generic settings that characterize the disquieting sensation of being witness to the process of social and industrial transformation in the nineteenth century. On the other hand, writing during the 1840s complicates Poe’s depiction of the city, since at that time only a few American cities could match the density of population in Paris and London, and New York’s grid system, for example, with its clarity and simplicity, presented a setback for the mysteries and terrors Poe has famously associated with the city. For this reason, Poe has chosen Paris and London for detailing the anxieties specific to the experiences within the urban environment.