College of Liberal Arts

Department of English


Susan Amper
"The Biographer as Assassin: The Hidden Murders in 'The Assignation'"

Thomas Moore's biography of Byron has long been recognized as the principal source for Poe's tale. The present essay views the object of Poe's ironic treatment not as Byronism or the tale of romance but as Moore's biography itself and by extension literary biography in general. Poe focuses on two egregious features of Moore's memoir: his slyly malicious treatment of his famous subject and a humiliating blunder he makes in ascribing to Byron a poem written by someone else. Poe creates a similar duplicity in the relationship of his narrator to the Byronic hero and dramatizes the relationship by making the narrator the actual murderer of the hero. The essay examines the evidence pointing to hidden murders in the tale, including the narrator's visible resentment of the hero, his own love for the marchesa, and the doubtful authorship of the poem he professes to fine in the hero's palazzo.




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