Archipelagic Pym

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Antarctica can be understood as materially continental and conceptually archipelagic. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, this article argues, is itself archipelagic both in its island-hopping content and in its narrative form: the continental form of the “novel” has no integrity for Poe. In conversation with Mat Johnson’s reimagining of Poe’s work in his contemporary novel Pym (2011), this article brings an archipelagic perspective to Arthur Gordon Pym and its fantasies of whiteness. Reading Arthur Gordon Pym and the great southern continent as archipelagic, it argues, centers what has been thought to be scattered, minute, and peripheral into a reoriented model of mutual sustainability, reciprocity, and loose affiliation. The disjointedness of Poe’s novel can be read as a map of the contradictory status of both Antarctica and literary whiteness in geopolitical and geophysical units of analysis. Viewing the Southern continent as an archipelago helps to clarify (if not resolve) much of Arthur Gordon Pym’s illogicality as a function inherent in whiteness itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-66
Number of pages18
JournalPoe Studies: History, Theory, Interpretation
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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