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"Ligeia is the chief story. It is a tale of love pushed over a verge. And love pushed to extreme is a battle of wills between the lovers ... Which shall first destroy the other, of the lovers ? ... Ligeia is the old-fashioned woman. Her will is still to submit. She wills to submit to the vampire of her husband’s consciousness. Even death ... What he wants to do with Ligeia is to analyse her, till he knows all her component parts, till he has got her all in his consciousness ... It is easy to see why each man kills the thing he loves. To love a living thing is to kill it. You have to kill a thing to know it satisfactorily. For this reason, the desirous consciousness, the spirit, is a vampire ... Every sacred instinct teaches one that one must leave her (i.e. the woman one loves) unknown. You know your woman darkly, in the blood. To try to love her mentally is to kill her ... It is the temptation of a vampire fiend, is this knowledge ... Poe wanted to know — wanted to know what was the strangeness in the eyes of Ligeia. She might have told him it was horror, horror at his probing, horror at being vamped by his consciousness. But she wanted to be vamped. She wanted to be probed by his consciousness, to be KNOWN. She paid for wanting it, too. Nowadays it is usually the man who wants to be vamped, to be KNOWN ... Poe and Ligeia sinned against the Holy Ghost that bids us all laugh and forget, bids us know our own limits. And they weren’t forgiven." D. H. Lawrence on Poe in Studies in Classic American Literature cited in The Romantic Agony

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

"Ligeia" is an early short story written by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1838. The story follows an unnamed narrator and his wife Ligeia, a beautiful and intelligent raven-haired woman. She recites "The Conqueror Worm" before she dies and suggests that life is sustainable only through willpower. After her death, the narrator marries the Lady Rowena. Rowena becomes ill and she dies as well. The distraught narrator stays with her body overnight when Rowena slowly comes back from the dead - though she has transformed into Ligeia. The story may be the narrator's opium-induced hallucination and there is debate if the story was a satire. After the story's first publication in The American Museum, it was heavily revised and reprinted throughout Poe's life.

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