About the Reading Texts of “Autography”

No webmaster worth his salt would pass up a chance at interpreting “Autography” for the web. The graphic effects alone are worth the attempt.

Care has been taken to reproduce the authors’ signatures in exact proportion to their woodblock originals, using percentage values and relative sizing.

The titles are a close approximation of the originals, but the text follows the site’s own style conventions.

What’s important about the “series” is that it is not conducted or created as a sequence, but rather shows a sustained preoccupation in Poe’s mind from some time predating February 1836 to some time following January 1842. That is a solid six years of carrying a sarcastic form of trifling page filler in one’s head. It shows instead that Poe is fascinated with the idea of autography/chirography and has also found it a delightful outlet for what we call snarkiness today: pointed anti-personage — nothing personal nor actionable in attacking an avatar — barbs tossed into a maelstrom of surging press (via smashed paper or vibrating electron, a medium is just a medium). It is silly scientifically, but it is also very true in a “poetic” sense (on Poe’s terms) that a man’s or woman’s character is revealed in and can be divined from his/her handwriting. For Poe, numeric data need not align when the Gefühl is correct, just as the Zen archer who “misses” may still succeed admirably.

If “Autography” is not solidly within The Biblioscape, then surely it is just down the road.