Talk:Eureka: A Prose Poem

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Good article Eureka: A Prose Poem has been listed as one of the Language and literature good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
December 6, 2007 Peer review Reviewed
December 12, 2007 Good article nominee Listed
Did You Know A fact from this article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "Did you know?" column on November 18, 2007.
Current status: Good article


I've (clearly) been expanding this article like crazy in the last couple days. If anyone else is watching this article or happens to come across it, there are a couple parts that definitely need expansion if a hand can be lent. First, further information that Eureka has been considered an indication of Poe's declining mental health. Also, more positive reactions (I know there are more out there) to balance out all the negative. If anyone has a scan of an early printing, that would be a great addition too! Other than that, I'm fairly pleased with this article on one of Poe's most important yet obscure works! I may even nominate it for Good Article! --Midnightdreary (talk) 00:57, 18 November 2007 (UTC)


Granted, this work has a bunch of different titles... but the most common one I've seen is "Eureka: A Prose Poem". Should we consider renaming the article to that, rather than the cumbersome "Eureka (Edgar Allan Poe)"? Just a thought. --Midnightdreary 14:39, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

Hi, I'm reviewing this article under the Good Article criteria. I have to read it first so don't expect a written response for one or two days. Cheers! Wassupwestcoast (talk) 18:43, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Well, this was easy. This meets Wikipedia:What is a good article?. My only question involves the sentence: "This lecture has alternatively been dated as February 9." Perhaps some text on why the date isn't known exactly and which date is prefered by concensus? The article is sourced. The text reads well. This article follows the conventions of literary analysis far more than so much of what appears on Wikipedia that it is refreshing to see. GA Pass. Cheers! Wassupwestcoast (talk) 20:04, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the GA pass! It's such an odd piece in the story of Poe's life, it seemed worth the focus (plus it gets vandalized the least of all of Poe's works here on Wikipedia...). I feel good about this one, but I think you're right on the odd date situation. I'll see what more modern research concludes and go with one date (or, if nothing else, just leave it as an ambiguous "February 1848"). --Midnightdreary (talk) 21:35, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Sometimes ambiquity hides a lot of sins :-) Cheers! Wassupwestcoast (talk) 21:46, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
I went ahead and removed that alternative date entirely. It certainly confused the issue. Several sources I have give the date that is currently in the article. I attribute the "alternative date" as a fluke or hearsay (that source, Thomas Holley Chivers, was probably writing from memory or recording from anecdotes from others). --Midnightdreary (talk) 01:07, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Reverted good faith edits[edit]

Sorry to make such a massive revert on, presumably, good faith edits. Here's my reasoning: some of the sourced material was changed, some of the sourced material was removed, no edit summaries justified it. New information was added, possibly from a reputable source, but too many weasel words and original research diluted the quality of this Good Article (i.e. "the work itself clearly shows that Poe was serious" = obviously unencyclopedic and original research). Considering the rampant vandalism that Poe articles receive, I'm cautious about monitoring them... Using edit summaries would have helped! My feeling is that the new source found would be good to further expand the science discussion, but not the literary discussion (as it comes from a science journal, it appears). One source, however, should not overthrow scholarly consensus. I hope I'm explaining my reasoning well and not coming across as overly harsh. --Midnightdreary (talk) 12:13, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

Hi, I am the author of the good faith edits. Sorry, I fully understand the reasons of your massive revert. Now I have just made a minor correction and added two references (it's my work, but I assure you it is reputable). I will try to expand the scientific part according to the Good Article directives in the next future... let me simply point out that I respect scholarly consensus: for this reason I eliminated the claim that Poe anticipated black holes. My corrections concerning non scientific questions, such as the mental health of Poe, were based, among other sources, on the autoritative biography written by Quinn. I understand the need to find a balance, but not all literary critics must be necessarily given the same weight (for example, the Freudian interpretation of Eureka by Marie Bonaparte -not mentioned in the article- appears to me complete nonsense). Anyway, I invite you to read my paper (you can retrieve the pdf version at the NASA site, so you can judge by yourself what I mean and what were my aims. Alcap (talk) 13:29, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Fair enough. I agree on Bonaparte; I usually ignore her completely (though a quick mention might be necessary?). Daniel Hoffman's book discusses Eureka at length but I find most of what he says useless here. I think the scientific discussion here is weak so we can definitely build on it. The mental health of Poe question could also be discussed further. Thanks for taking a look though, and I hope I didn't put you off from further helping build this article... Eureka is sort of a forgotten work of Poe's but a colleague of mine swears it is the "key" to understand his life and his fiction... Go figure! --Midnightdreary (talk) 13:36, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
If you had read Hoffman's book, you would undestand why Eureka is considered to be the key to the mystery of Πόή.Lestrade (talk) 21:10, 24 June 2009 (UTC)Lestrade
I have read the book and chatted with its author about it. Can you elaborate as far as what you would like to add here rather than just throwing out a comment like that? And explain also how this solves the issue of removing sourced content and adding unsourced original research? --Midnightdreary (talk) 22:18, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

By telling readers to "go figure," you give the impression that you do not know why Eureka can be considered to be the key to Poe's works. In Hoffman's chapter, "The Mind of God," which you have read, he wrote: "Eureka is appraised as a treatise on astrophysics. But what is it other than a master code–breaker to Poe's oeuvre?" According to Hoffman, Poe used his methods of intuitive guesswork and ratiocination to solve the mystery of the universe. Poe's mind was attuned to the mind of "God" when "He" willed the universe into an existence that consists of eternal expansion and contraction. Poe's tales and poems follow this pattern. "For what have we found this motion to be which Poe imputes to all creation, this expulsion and impulsion, but the instinctual movement of the mind that conceives it? It is an objectification, a brilliant projection outward upon the universe of the conflict between Eros [love] and Thanatos [death], between the life–wish and the will to self–destruction. Between the ego, asserting, exercising, revelling in its individuated powers, and the Imp of the Perverse, ever betraying the assertive self to the instinct that lies most secreted within it." "Thus, to sum up, the Imp of the Perverse is, psychologically, that impulse which contradicts the individuation of the self: that yearning for self–destruction which expresses the soul's longing to return to the unity and primal simplicity from which it came. Salvation from suffering by suffering the annihilation of the self. A paradigm of the universal dance of atoms and of galaxies." Poe's description of the universe's endlessly repeated expansion from a primal atom and striving to return to its original condition reflects the events that are described in many of his tales and poems, as well as the events of his life.Lestrade (talk) 12:49, 25 June 2009 (UTC)Lestrade

So, you're turning this page into a discussion board rather than a location to express ways to improve the article, eh? I'll remind you that Hoffman is giving his personal opinion on Eureka, not categorical fact. --Midnightdreary (talk) 13:53, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

Heaven forbid that we should discuss the article's topic! I was merely responding to your words: "a colleague of mine swears it is the 'key' to understand his life and his fiction... Go figure!". It was my feeble, futile attempt to slightly brighten the light of understanding in this dark world.Lestrade (talk) 14:55, 25 June 2009 (UTC)Lestrade

The "Go figure!" comment was actually my own attempt at humor. However, I'll remind you of the notice at the top of this page that says that discussion pages are not for general discussion of the topic. --Midnightdreary (talk) 17:02, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

I don't understand your humor and I swear an oath that I will try to never generally discuss the article's topic on this talk page. Lestrade (talk) 22:05, 25 June 2009 (UTC)Lestrade


Poe concludes in Eureka "that space and duration are one." This is, by definition, the space-time continuum. It is not original thought or research for anybody to merely point out what Poe concluded. It's not interpreted in anyway; it is merely a direct quote from Eureka. It is also arguably the most significant aspect of Eureka because it predates Einstein by decades! This fact needs to be in the Eureka article (it's already in the space-time article) and it requires no outside sources other than Eureka itself. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:23, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

You know, I took another look at what you wrote. In your edit summary, you said that Poe was the first to make that conclusion. Unless Poe actually wrote in Eureka, "I'm the first to make this conclusion", it would need an outside source. In fact, your edit did not actually say he was the first. So, I think quoting just Poe's words is just fine. However, it should definitely not be under "influence and significance"; that section must be sourced with outside sources (especially if you want to say it's "arguably the most significant aspect of Eureka because it predates Einstein by decades"). I think it would work fairly well under "Overview"... do you agree? Remember that this article is a Good Article so the rules are very stringent. --Midnightdreary (talk) 22:30, 25 July 2008 (UTC)
By the way, I should say thanks for bringing this to discussion. This type of collaboration is how this project improves! --Midnightdreary (talk) 22:30, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

Alright, here's an outside source: this is John Astin's article on Eureka published in the Caxtonian in 1998. See the second paragraph of his essay. Absolutely this should be under "Influence and Significance"--the operative word being "significance." If Poe was the first, then it is possibly the most significant statement in the history of physical science. Poe is concluding what physicists took another 100 years to conclude. Despite the fact that it may have no significance or influence on literature, the history of literature, or those interested in literature, Poe's statement has enormous historical significance to anyone interested in science or the history of science. Thanks also for letting me poke a little fun at your possessive nature over your Poe articles on wiki--I did it because I knew you'd undo my edit faster than I could type it--but it got your attention and that's what I wanted. Well, where ever it ends up, the quote, "space and duration are one" definitely needs to be in the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:03, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

Cool... so here's what I think: If we are just saying that this was Poe's conclusion, it's part of the "overview" and we can quote only Poe's own words. If we are trying to say that he was the first and that he predated Einstein or that he was making "possibly the most significant statement in the history of physical science", then it should be added to "significance" (I didn't mean to imply that this should only be about literature, by the way), but it would definitely need a source. I'm not sure John Astin is the best authority for this, though. So, for now, what do you think? Let's put Poe's quote in the "overview" and the two of us can keep an eye open for a source that specifically addresses the importance of that statement. Hopefully, one of us can find a book or article that discusses it in-depth enough to give Poe the credit he's due. What do you think? --Midnightdreary (talk) 23:24, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

Ok, the overview sounds good for now and in the mean time I found this quote from an online interview with Astin (yeah, him again) in which he cites a book that apparently makes the very same claim that I am making here in our discussion: "In fact there's a book called Darkness at Night, published by Harvard University Press, which discusses the riddle of darkness...This book has a whole chapter devoted to Poe. In Eureka, Poe proposed a time and space continuum, fully a half a century before Einstein." This was found at and though this interview obviously is not a source of scholarly merit in itself, one of us needs to get a hold of the book that Astin is speaking of and then I think we can move Poe's conclusion to the "significance" section because we will have a source to cite. It's weird that John Astin keeps coming up in this. I had a discussion regarding Poe with him years ago via email so I knew he was pretty well read in Poe but I didn't think I would be running into him so much in this capacity. Strange. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:38, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

Agreed! I'll keep an eye out for it (or similar analyses). As far as Astin's knowledge of Poe, he's definitely the real deal. See Edgar Allan Poe: Once Upon a Midnight. --Midnightdreary (talk) 23:46, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

Ok, I added the quote to the overview section and cited source 10 (Eureka itself) but wiki auto-reformatted it to be source 11, so now Eureka is source 10 and 11--I don't know how to correct that. Check out what I typed and do with it what you will. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:50, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

Epicurus did not believe that atoms were attracted to one another[edit]

I noticed that the "allusions" section falsely attributes to Epicurus or the Epicureans the view that atoms were attracted to each other in space. Neither Epicurus nor other Greek atomists believed in an attractive force that brought atoms together. Epicurus thought that there were only two primitive sources of atomic motion: a tendency of atoms to move downward, and random movement that he called the "swerve." All other atomic motion, Epicurus thought, involved inertia and collision between atoms. Epicurus thought that atoms sometimes formed permanent composite bodies because they had special interlocking shapes that could resist collision with other atoms. He did not believe that they stayed together because of some fundamental force of attraction. I have provided a scholarly citation for these claims from a reputable secondary source. I also replaced the article's characterization of Epicurean atomism with a more general and correct characterization of that view.

I would welcome further revision. I doubt any detailed information about Epicurus' views is necessary in an article about a 19th century literary work. However, accurately portraying Epicurus' views is preferable if they must be included. (talk) 20:05, 1 April 2013 (UTC)

Looks fine to me. Thanks for taking the time. --Midnightdreary (talk) 14:46, 2 April 2013 (UTC)