Monday, October 3, 2016


MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE, though it may have been intended to be something of a burlesque of other "tall tales of the sea," shows Poe finally giving full rein to his daemonic imagination.

The "message" is purportedly one abandoned to the seas in a bottle, written by a man lost at sea. His sailing-vessel is caught up by a titanic storm, and, instead of simply being sunk, the ship is caught up and pulled along by the force of the storm. The narrator and one other man survive the initial torrent, but this already fantastic situation turns wilder when the ship he's on is destroyed by a second, larger ship, also being borne along by the great storm. The other survivor apparently perishes, but the narrator is flung onto the second ship. This ship still has a crew, though all of the sailors are so aged that they don't even apprehend the narrator's presence. Still alone even among these Sargasso-like survivors, the storm finally hurls the whole megilla down into an endless abyss-- though apparently not one so endless that the bottle with the message fails to show up in the mortal world once more.

I frankly didn't know whether or not Poe really believed that such phenomena were possible, or if it was all just a jape. This site, however, suggests that Poe harbored some eccentric beliefs about the structure of the known universe, and that MS. may be based in part upon those beliefs-- so I've decided to label it as "marvelous."

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