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ForgettingMyths, Perils and Compensations$
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Douwe Draaisma

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300207286

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300207286.001.0001

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The Mirror That Never Forgets

The Mirror That Never Forgets

(p.193) Chapter Eleven The Mirror That Never Forgets

Douwe Draaisma

, Liz Waters
Yale University Press

This chapter considers the story “The Oval Portrait” (1842) by Edgar Allan Poe and its relation to the daguerreotype, which Poe enthusiastically wrote about in an article in 1840. It argues that in today's world, where intensive photographic documentation of our lives often begins at birth, the wishes and hopes that people had of the portrait in Poe's time are still with us; for example in many people's desire to own a drawing or painting of a loved one after their death rather than merely photographs. If none has been made in life, some people will take a photograph to an artist and ask for a posthumous portrait. There is apparently something that photography, which has changed technically out of all recognition since 1839, cannot provide, perhaps that very thing that compelled Poe to make his central character in his story a painter, rather than a daguerreotypist.

Keywords:   memory, Edgar Allan Poe, The Oval Portrait, painter, photographer, daguerreotype, posthumous portrait

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