Written in Stone : Slavery and Authority in 'The Narrative F. Arthur Gordon PYM'
ATQ American Transcendental Quarterly
In the 1830s, Edgar Allan Poe wrote an adventure novel, "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym." There are descriptions in the book in which it is hard to differentiate between the natural and cultural worlds. As in most of Poe's works, there are cryptic and deeply enbedded hidden meanings. Two of his characters, trapped in a cave, find some inscriptions on its walls. Rudoff theorizes that Poe may have received inspiration for these cave writings from other "sets of stone that were being contemplated along religio-political and vacial lines in the 1830s, name, the Rosetta Stone, the Ten Commandments, and the Mormon tablets." Poe was interested in the racial politics of his day and his interests in slavery are woven into the "Pym" novel. The author finds the Book of Mormon to be "largely preoccupied with racial matters." The culture at large during the 1830s was deeply interested in the issue and question of slavery and the "air was thick with questions about the divne authority of ancient foreign texts." It was in this mileau that Poe wrote his complex novel.