For two days my Muse has bid me to announce I am the embodiment of Reverend John Wilson. But, what about his father, William Wilson? I then found John Wilson V. An hour ago I found ‘Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment’ – after I found Edgar Allan Poes ‘William Wilson’. This story was influenced by Hawthorne who has my great grandfather, John Wilson, in his novel ‘The Scarlet Letter’.
“The Reverend Wilson is among the men who judge Hester Prynne at the beginning of the book. We’ll let the narrator introduce him:
[he was] the eldest clergyman of Boston, a great scholar, like most of his contemporaries in the profession, and withal a man of kind and genial spirit. This last attribute, however, had been less carefully developed than his intellectual gifts, and was, in truth, rather a matter of shame than self-congratulation with him. There he stood, with a border of grizzled locks beneath his skull-cap, while his grey eyes, accustomed to the shaded light of his study, were winking, like those of Hester’s infant, in the unadulterated sunshine. He looked like the darkly engraved portraits which we see prefixed to old volumes of sermons, and had no more right than one of those portraits would have to step forth, as he now did, and meddle with a question of human guilt, passion, and anguish. (3.18)
When I was living in Roxbury Massachusetts, I retrieved the peddles to the organ of the old church they tore down, and a priests black robe with many buttons. I wore it around in our commune. I put candles on the peddles that I hung on my wall.
When I lived on Beacon Hill I wore a black cape with a black wide-brimmed hat. I was not aware I looked like a Puritan. Not until I got my DNA, did my Puritan Ancestor become visible. Now, add my death and rebirth experience. Now, look at my efforts to make my Muse, Rena Easton, young again.
The Rose Muse of New England is with me. Alas, she has freed me from the clutches of friend, family, and foe, who have perceived Eternity lie inside me, and have tried to hold me back because I can go where they can’t, and have been where they know naught. I am living forever! I am poised to author the Greatest Historic -Fiction of all time! I am in the catbird’s seat. I am awake in a Tower in Boston. The world is mine. I own……..The Rose! I will be immortalized with my tales of the Rose!
Here is an essay that compares the work of Edgar Allan Poe, to Dashiell Hammet who sailed to the Channel Islands with my grandfather, Royal Rosamond. Other members of the Black Mask camped with my grandparents. This is astounding connection! Was Thomas Pynchon influenced by Poe? How about Ian Fleming, Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, and Christopher Lee. All three are in my Rosy Family Tree. Hawthorn wrote about my ancestor. Add to this the artwork of my kin, Thomas Hart Benton, and Christine Rosamond, and we are looking at a Literary and Artistic Dynasty.
Recently, my daughter, Heather Hanson, has gotten some of her writing published. I highly suggest her mother, Patrice Hanson, and her aunt, Linda Comstock, end their battle with me over whom my daughter got her talent from. This tug-of-war has obviously been lost by these two sisters, who approved of my daughter going over to Vicki Presco, and the blessing of the destructive biography ordered by Special Executor, Sydney Morris, and published by Stacey Pierrot who defamed all members of my family.
All writers need a resumé’ that shows their literary background and influences. Surely Heather has read my blog named after her great grandfather. I have taken the liberty to record a message to my unborn granddaughter that I named Lily-Rose. Ones descendants constitute a eternal inheritance. Nathanial Hawthorne made Lily-Rose manifest in his rose story. I am authoring a Bond book. Was Fleming influenced by Poe? Yes!
John Wilson Rosamond a.k.a. John Presco
When James Bond dreamt of Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe seems an unlikely influence on Ian Fleming’s writing, but the 19th-century poet, story-teller, and master of the macabre nevertheless made his mark in the James Bond novels.
Ian Fleming mentions Poe three times in the Bond novels. There is one reference in Moonraker (1955); Fleming compares the ominous ticking inside the Moonraker rocket before launch to “the beating heart in Poe’s story” (probably ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ (1843), in which “the beating of the old man’s heart…increased my fury, as the beating of the drum stimulates the soldier into courage”).
|An illustration from ‘Tell-Tale Heart’|
Fleming himself had a fondness for the macabre, and it is appropriate that his most macabre novel, You Only Live Twice (1965), contains two references to Poe. When Tiger Tanaka describes Dr Shatterhand’s castle of death, Bond is reminded of Poe, Le Fanu, Bram Stoker and Ambrose Bierce. Later, when Bond encounters Shatterhand, now revealed to be Blofeld, he comments on Blofeld’s genius for creating a shrine to death. “People read about such fantasies in the works of Poe, Lautréamont, de Sade.”
But there is another allusion to Poe. In his 1842 story, ‘The Mystery of Marie Rogêt’, in which the detective C Auguste Dupin investigates the unsolved murder of Marie Rogêt, the unnamed narrator is subjected to a series of tests on the matter of dreams. At one point he states that “when one dreams, and, in the dream, suspects that he dreams, the suspicion never fails to confirm itself, and the sleeper is almost instantly aroused. Thus Novalis errs not in saying that ‘we are near waking when we dream that we dream.’”
Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment
“Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” a short story by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, about a doctor who claims to have been sent water from the Fountain of Youth. Originally published anonymously in 1837, it was later published in Hawthorne’s collection Twice-Told Tales, also in 1837.
Dr. Heidegger invites four elderly friends to participate in an experiment in his mysterious, gloomy study. He shows them a withered rose that he claims is fifty-five years old. He then displays a vase, a gift from an acquaintance, that contains a generous quantity of sparkling water. Heidegger explains that this bewitching water is from the legendary Fountain of Youth, near Lake Macaco (now known as Lake Okeechobee, in Florida). The water wondrously causes the old rose to bloom again when it is dropped into it.
Dr. Heidegger’s friends become cautiously intrigued. They wish to taste the water, hoping it will restore their youth and give them an opportunity to live life again, free from the mistakes they made when they were young. As Heidegger watches, they anxiously drink the water. Their youth restored, they begin acting as fatuously as they did in their prime. Soon, the three men of the group begin competing for the attention of the now-youthful and beautiful widow. While experiencing their newfound youth, however, a tall ominous mirror in the study reflects an image of the four guests as still being elderly and feeble. The vase is accidentally smashed as the men fight over her, and its miraculous water is lost. The guests’ transformation only lasts for minutes, and therefore returns them to their original old age. To obtain more of the enchanted water, the four test subjects determine to travel to Florida to find the Fountain of Youth.
- Dr. Heidegger – An aged and wise physician who is the protagonist of the story.
- Colonel Killigrew – A man who, throughout his life, has had many self-indulgent, sinful pleasures.
- Mr. Medbourne – A once-rich merchant who lost most of his fortune in speculation.
- Mr. Gascoigne – A politician whose career was ruined by his corruption.
- Widow Wycherley – A formerly beautiful woman loved by the three gentlemen (Colonel Killigrew, Mr. Medbourne, Mr. Gascoigne).
- Sylvia Ward– A youthful woman whose portrait hangs upon a wall in the study. She was supposed to marry Dr. Heidegger but died the day before their marriage. (The rose Dr. Heidegger uses in his experiment is one he received from Sylvia for their wedding.)
The story was first published anonymously as “The Fountain of Youth” in the January 1837 issue of Lewis Gaylord Clark’s The Knickerbocker magazine. It was included later that year in Hawthorne’s collection Twice-Told Tales. Edgar Allan Poe reviewed the second edition of the collection in 1842 and wrote that “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” was “exceedingly well imagined and executed with surpassing ability. The artist breathes in every line of it.”
William Wilson (short story)
The Gift, Carey and Hart, Philadelphia, 1840
|Author||Edgar Allan Poe|
|Published in||Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine|
|Media type||Monthly magazine|
|Publication date||October 1839|
“William Wilson” is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1839, with a setting inspired by Poe’s formative years on the outskirts of London. The tale follows the theme of the doppelgänger and is written in a style based on rationality. It also appeared in the 1840 collection Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, and has been adapted several times.
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The story follows a man of “a noble descent” who calls himself William Wilson because, although denouncing his profligate past, he does not accept full blame for his actions, saying that “man was never thus … tempted before”. After several paragraphs, the narration then segues into a description of Wilson’s boyhood, which is spent in a school “in a misty-looking village of England“.
William meets another boy in his school who has the same name and roughly the same appearance, and who was even born on the same date (January 19, Poe’s own birthday). William’s name (he asserts that his actual name is only similar to “William Wilson”) embarrasses him because it sounds “plebeian” or common, and he is irked that he must hear the name twice as much on account of the other William.
The boy also dresses like William, walks like him, but can only speak in a whisper. He begins to give advice to William of an unspecified nature, which he refuses to obey, resenting the boy’s “arrogance”. One night he steals into the other William’s bedroom and recoils in horror at the boy’s face—which now resembles his own. William then immediately leaves the academy and, in the same week, the other boy follows suit.
William eventually attends Eton and Oxford, gradually becoming more debauched and performing what he terms “mischief”. For example, he steals from a man by cheating at cards. The other William appears, his face covered, and whispers a few words sufficient to alert others to William’s behavior, and then leaves with no others seeing his face. William is haunted by his double in subsequent years, who thwarts plans described by William as driven by ambition, anger and lust. In one caper, he attempts to seduce a married woman at Carnival in Rome, but the other William stops him. The enraged protagonist drags his “unresisting” double—who wears identical clothes— into an antechamber, and, after a brief sword fight in which the double participates only reluctantly, stabs him fatally.
After William does this, a large mirror suddenly seems to appear. Reflected at him, he sees “mine own image, but with features all pale and dabbled in blood”: apparently the dead double, “but he spoke no longer in a whisper”. The narrator feels as if he is pronouncing the words: “In me didst thou exist—and in my death, see … how utterly thou hast murdered thyself.”
The setting of “William Wilson” is semi-autobiographical and relates to Poe’s residence in England as a boy. The “misty-looking village of England” of the story is Stoke Newington, now a suburb of north London. The school is based on the Manor House School in Stoke Newington which Poe attended from 1817 to 1820. Poe’s headmaster there, the Reverend John Bransby, shares the same name as the headmaster in the story, though, in the latter, he acquires the dignity of being a “Doctor”. This school has since been demolished. The church mentioned in the story is based on St Mary’s “Old” Church, the original parish church of Stoke Newington. This building is still extant. In Poe’s story the church is described to have a Gothic spire. The spire, however, was only added to the church in 1829 some nine years after Poe had left the school.
Additionally, Poe acknowledged that the idea of a story about the irritation one feels by meeting someone with the same name, thereby ruining a feeling of uniqueness, was inspired by Washington Irving‘s “An Unwritten Drama of Lord Byron”. At the end of Irving’s tale, the main character kills his double with his sword, only to see his own face behind the mask.
“William Wilson” clearly explores the theme of the double. This second self haunts the protagonist and leads him to insanity and also represents his own insanity. According to Poe biographer, Arthur Hobson Quinn, the second self represents the conscience. This division of the self is reinforced by the narrator’s admission that “William Wilson” is actually a pseudonym. The name itself is an interesting choice: “son” of “will”. In other words, William Wilson has willed himself into being along with the double which shares that name.
Poe wrote the story very carefully and with subtlety. Sentences are balanced, with very few adjectives, and there is little concrete imagery beyond the description of Wilson’s school. Pacing is purposely set as leisurely and measured using a formal style and longer sentences. Rather than creating a poetic effect or mood, as Poe recommends in “The Philosophy of Composition“, Poe is creating a tale based on rationality and logic.
“William Wilson” was published in the October 1839 issue of Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, though it appeared earlier that year in The Gift: A Christmas and New Year’s Present dated for 1840. The tale was later translated into French in December 1844, printed in the Paris newspaper La Quotidienne in two installments. This was the first translation of Poe’s work to a language other than English and marked Poe’s introduction to France.
When Poe wrote to Washington Irving asking for a word of endorsement, he specifically requested a response to “William Wilson”, calling it “my best effort”. Irving responded, “It is managed in a highly picturesque Style and the Singular and Mysterious interest is well sustained throughout”. Thomas Mann said of Fyodor Dostoevsky‘s The Double: A Petersburg Poem, which explores a similar doppelgänger theme, “by no means improved on Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘William Wilson,’ a tale that deals with the same old romantic motif in a way far more profound on the moral side and more successfully resolving the critical [theme] in the poetic”.
In Poe’s review of Nathaniel Hawthorne‘s Twice-Told Tales, Poe noted that the short story “Howe’s Masquerade” was similar to “William Wilson”. As he wrote, “not only are the two general conceptions identical but there are various points of similarity”.
In 1913, “William Wilson” was freely adapted into The Student of Prague, a German film directed by Stellan Rye and Paul Wegener and starring Wegener. A 1926 version was also made in Germany and directed by Henrik Galeen and starred Conrad Veidt. A third German adaptation, made in 1935, was directed by Arthur Robison and starred Anton Walbrook.
A French–Italian collaboration came out in 1968 called Spirits of the Dead or Histoires extraordinaires. The film is composed of three vignettes, directed by Roger Vadim, Louis Malle and Federico Fellini and starring Alain Delon and Brigitte Bardot. The other two segments adapt Poe’s “Metzengerstein” and “Never Bet the Devil Your Head“. It would also form the basis for The Smithereens‘ song of the same name, from their 1989 album 11.
In 1968, Editora Taika in Brazil published a comic adaptation in Album Classicos De Terror #6. Art was by Osvaldo Talo. It was reprinted in Classicos De Terror (2nd series) #5 in June 1973.
In 1974, Skywald published a comic adaptation in Nightmare #19 (June 1974), adapted by Al Hewetson, with art by Alfonso Font. This was reprinted by Mehmet K. Benli Turkey in Vampirella #3 (October 25, 1976) and Vampirella # (1977); and by Eternity Comics in Edgar Allan Poe: The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Stories #1 (June 1988).
In 1976 the BBC anthology series Centre Play aired an adaptation written by Hugh Whitemore featuring Norman Eshley as the title character along with Stephen Murray, Anthony Daniels, and Robert Tayman.
In 1979, Ediciones De La Urraca in Argentina published a comic adaptation in El Pendulo #2 (October 1979). Adaptation was by Guillermo Saccomanno, art was by Alberto Breccia. This was reprinted by Les Humanoides Associes in France in Le Coeur Revelator (1992 and September 1995) and by Doedyeeditores in Argentina in El Gato Negro Y Outras Historias (2011).
In 1979, Bloch Editores S.A. in Brazil published a comic adaptation in Aventuras Macabras #12 (1979). The adaptation and art were by Jose Menezes.
References in other works
There are strains of the story of “William Wilson” in Andrew Taylor’s “The American Boy”, in which Edgar Allan Poe himself is featured as a character.
Paul Auster‘s novel The New York Trilogy features a character named Quinn who writes under the pseudonym “William Wilson.” The novel uses intertextuality to explore the nature of identity and reality.
In Stephen King’s novel The Outsider, the detective character Anderson draws a parallel between the case he investigates and Poe’s story William Wilson. Stephen King also told the media that the novel is partly inspired by this story.