Von Kempelen and His Discovery

“AFTER THE very minute and elaborate paper by Arago, to say nothing of the summary in ‘Silliman’s Journal,’ with the detailed statement just published by Lieutenant Maury, it will not be supposed, of course, that in offering a few hurried remarks in reference to Von Kempelen’s discovery, I have any design to look at the subject in a scientific point of view.”

In this sentence Edgar Allan Poe mentions Silliman’s Journal which is an American scientific journal at the time, which he will highlight when referring to science. When he begins the sentence “After the very minute” it shows the urgency of the topic of this paper. Poe’s use of discovery adds on to how Von Kempelen’s hoax was taken as scientific. At the end of the point Poe is explaining on how he isn’t taking a scientific perspective in his paper. When Poe uses “a few hurried remarks” the image of him writing this in a hasty fashion comes to my mind, along with the idea of him abruptly trying to get this out to society.

This quote shows that Poe’s tone is skeptical to what was quickly assumed to be as fact. A theme shown in this quote is the legitimacy of science, he claims to take a different stance than the one science takes even though science is often taken as solid truth. This gives us a lead into what his short essay was going to further elaborate on and go into detail about.

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3 Responses to Von Kempelen and His Discovery

  1. Yemaj Sheik says:

    The sentence starts out addressing “Arago” which could be a scientist at the time because when Poe offered his remarks, he stated he would not be taking the scientist view. He could of stated the sentence this way, without addressing who Arago is from the beginning to put questions in the readers mind. Also the use of names and titles makes this paper seem to appeal to people of that time it was written, and he assumes the reader has background knowledge on the subject he is writing about.

  2. Lindsey Grubbs says:

    You’ve pulled a lot of good stuff here, Yemaj! I like your two central points here about the hastiness and urgency of his tone, and the tension between scientific writing and whatever he is going to do in this piece.

    I’m curious about what you came up with for the sentence-level analysis we did in class–please post it as a comment here! There are some interesting things going on here gramatically. The “I” doesn’t come until near the end of the sentence, and we have lots of other clauses first. And then we have this strangely passive, “it will not be supposed.” What’s up with that?

  3. Lindsey Grubbs says:

    Oops, ignore the request for the sentence level bit. It was hiding in a folder needing to be approved. Sorry! You make a good point about his use of these names as though we will understand, though we clearly don’t know who they really are!

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