Thursday, January 5, 2012

"The Raven" in Popular Culture: Print

Writer James Russell Lowell, a contemporary of Poe's, references "The Raven" and its author in his poem, A Fable for Critics: "Here comes Poe with his Raven, like Barnaby Rudge, / Three fifths of him genius, two fifths sheer fudge." This mention alludes to the belief that Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty inspired Poe to write "The Raven."

In Edmund Clerihew Bentley's Trent's Own Case (1913), Trent, standing at an open French door and reciting the fifth stanza to himself, receives an unexpected reply:

"Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, ..."

In the magazine Mad issue 9 (March, 1954), "The Raven" is reprinted in full with absurd illustrations by Will Elder. Another parody appeared in a Mad collection, We're Still Using That Greasy MAD Stuff (1959). It was titled as "The Spaniel." Rather than "Nevermore," the author was bombarded with famous commercial taglines. A more recent parody in Mad by Frank Jacobs, titled "The Reagan", appeared in issue 265 (September 1986). Even more recently, the poem was used to parody horror movies, and how successful ones often have sequels made that are of low quality. The recurring line is, "Quoth Wes Craven, let's make more!"

In the Donald Duck 10-pager "Raven Mad" by Carl Barks, published in Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #265 in 1962, Huey, Dewey and Louie play with a raven who can only say "Nevermore." As in the poem, the raven often repeats the word throughout the story.

"The Raven" has been the subject of constrained writing. Georges Perec's novel A Void (1969), written entirely without the letter 'E' in French and subsequently translated into English by Gilbert Adair under the same constraint, contains a full-length "translation" of "The Raven" entitled "Black Bird." It is attributed to "Arthur Gordon Pym."

Mathematician Mike Keith has also referenced the poem in three examples of constrained writing:
"Near a Raven" is a reworking of Poe's poem in which the length of words correspond to the first 740 digits of pi (1995)
Cadaeic Cadenza, a longer work under the same constraint, begins with the full text of "Near a Raven" (1996)
"Raven-Two", a poetic anagram of the original (1999)

Poet C. L. Edson wrote a parody (ca. 1955) entitled Ravens of Piute Poet Poe, mocking Poe's alliteration and repetition:

"Prophet," said I, "thing of evil, navel, novel, or boll weevil, You shall travel, on the level! Scratch the gravel now and travel! Leave my hovel, I implore."

A raven named Quoth, who first appears in Soul Music and recurs in Hogfather as the steed of the Death of Rats, is a minor character associated with Death in Terry Pratchett's fictional Discworld universe, although on a matter of principle he doesn't "do the N word." He is currently in the employ of a Wizard; his job mainly entails sitting on a talking skull and croaking a lot.

In Joan Aiken's novel Arabel's Raven (1972), as well as further books from the Arabel and Mortimer series, a young girl named Arabel has a pet raven named Mortimer who often says the word "Nevermore!" Aiken won an Edgar Award in 1972.

The Calvin and Hobbes collection "The Essential Calvin and Hobbes: A Calvin and Hobbes Treasury" (released September 1988) contains an original illustrated poem, "A Nauseous Nocturne," which is clearly patterned after "The Raven."

In Stephen King's novel Insomnia (1994), Ralph compares an omen to the raven of the poem. The novel Black House (2001), written by King and Peter Straub, also features a talking crow reminiscent of the raven in Poe's poem. Part III of the novel is entitled "Night's Plutonian Shore."

In Robin Jarvis's Tales from the Wyrd Museum trilogy (1995–1998), Woden has two raven servants named Thought and Memory. Memory is known as Quoth throughout the stories, and occasionally says "Nevermore".

In the seventh book of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Vile Village (2001), a tree in the center of the village covered with crows is called the "Nevermore Tree."

Neil Gaiman references "The Raven" in two of his works:
In the novel American Gods (2001), the protagonist, Shadow, asks one of Odin's ravens, "Hey, Hugin or Munin, or whoever you are. Say 'Nevermore.'" The raven responds, "Fuck you."
The comic book series The Sandman features a raven named Matthew, who has been transformed into a raven as an alternative to death. At one point in the series, he flaps his wings and screams, "Nevermore!", only to explain that he was "being Peter Lorre in that one Roger Corman movie".

Level Ground Press and artist Bill Fountain published an illustrated re-imagining of "The Raven" in 2005. The book incorporates raven myths and legends from around the world into the visual interpretation of the story.

Bigfoot is used instead of a Raven as a parody in the 2005 novel, From Fear to Flattery by Tony Hughes.

Holly Black quotes the poem in her 2005 novel Valiant : A Modern Tale of Faerie, alluding to it as the source for the name of the drug called 'Nevermore'. However, this is later contradicted, when one of the characters asserts that the name comes from the limitations of its use: "Never more than once a day, never more than a pinch at a time, and never more than two days in a row."

One issue of the American Sonic the Hedgehog comic by Archie Comics featured a sorcerer by the name of Mathias Poe, an anthropomorphic Raven undoubtedly based on the poem.

The fantasy novel The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde features a villainous character named Jack Schitt who is ultimately trapped inside a copy of "The Raven."

In the book Eldest, the white raven Blagden says "And on the door was graven evermore, what now became the family lore, Let us never do but to adore," making references to The Raven with the first part of the rhyme.

In the graphic novel Batman: Year One by Frank Miller, the moment when Bruce decides which method he will use to fight crime is widely regarded as a reference to the poem because of the kind of chamber he is in and the bust on which the bat lands.

G. K. Chesterton's poem "The Song Against Songs" refers to "The Raven": "The song of the Raven Never More has never been called a cheery song."

In the novel Waves, by Ogan Gurel, Chapter 23 (Descartes) has a line reminiscent of "The Raven". Themes in that chapter parallel some of the ideas (death and mourning, loss of love, madness) in Poe's poem.

The first of the books based on the hit TV series Supernatural is called Nevermore. Poe is also very important for the rest of the book, as the murders that the main characters, Sam and Dean Winchester are investigating are reinactments of The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Cask of Amontillado and The Tell-Tale Heart, respectively, and it all turns out to be part of a ritual to bring Poe back to life.

Parodied as "The Spaniel" by "Edgar, Al and Moe" in "The 'Mad' Collection of Unknown Poetry."

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