Poe had a remarkable awareness of the presence and the functioning of the unconscious in our lives, as this quotation from his Marginalia indicates. He of course does not use modern psychological terminology or theories, since Freud et al. had not yet come along to provide them, but his description of "fancies" is clearly what we today would call "the unconscious." And his stories show undeniably his understanding of how the unconscious functions.



There is... a class of fancies, of exquisite delicacy, which are not thoughts, and to which, as yet, I have found it absolutely impossible to adapt language. I use the word "fancies" at random, and merely because I must use some word; but the idea commonly attached to the term is not even remotely applicable to the shadows of shadows in question. They seem to me rather psychal than intellectual. They rise in the soul (alas, how rarely!) Only at its epochs of the most intense tranquility... and at those mere points of time when the confines of the waking world blend with those of the world of dreams. I am aware of these "fancies" only when I am upon the very brink of sleep, with the consciousness that I am so.

Edgar Allan Poe Page   !!   The Gothic Experience Page

Revised: February 7, 2003