Edgar Allan Poe

I can’t ignore Mr. Poe the week of Halloween. Everyone has heard the Raven “tap, tap, tapping…” on the door, and I think we’ve all been frightened by his stories. If you haven’t, by all means, click HERE to read some. It is a pleasure not to be missed.

Mr. Poe is another beloved author who lived before the time of book awards. He has never been honored by an awarding society. For a man who revolutionized the modern short-story, created the detective story, and contributed to early science-fiction/fantasy, it is fitting that the Mystery Writers of America chose instead to name their awards after him, which some might say is an even larger honor that the winning of an award. But, before we get to the Edgars, a little more about Mr. Poe. Mr. Poe is from Baltimore, MD (yes, that’s why the NFL named the team the Ravens, and yes, I was proud of them for recognizing the literary link- what other pro sports team is named after a  poem?). Mr. Poe lived a hard, short life, seeing most of his family die of TB much too soon. Mr. Poe (I can’t quite call him Edgar- He scares me. 🙂 ) wrote more than his famous poems and short stories. He also wrote textbooks (can you imagine!) and was one of America’s first literary critics who championed an “American” voice and story- advocating that we move away from imitating the British styles and themes.  His reviews were often scathing if he did not approve, and he was very good a spotting plagiarism and did not hesitate to point it out. A man ahead of his time, he revolutionized the short story, and created the detective story as we know it. Without him, would Sherlock exist? or CSI? Things to ponder…

I do think it is very interesting that he prefered the short story because he felt it had more emotional impact than a novel: you couldn’t put it down and walk away, so the whole thing hit you at ONCE, vs. a novel the reader is GOING to put down and walk away from, sometimes purposefully distancing themselves from the emotions it evokes. I had never thought about it, but it’s a valid argument. (source for this info is HERE.)

Also interesting to note is that much of the “truth” we know about Mr. Poe was written posthumously by a rival seeking to discredit him. Mr. Griswold is now unknown (is this who National Lampoon’s is named for?), and Mr. Poe is beloved. Talk about a plan backfiring.

Here is the website for the Poe  Museum in Richmond. Great information and information.

Here is the website for the Poe House in Baltimore, where Mr. Poe wrote several of his well known works. Not a great website, but a neat place to visit.

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4 Comments on “Edgar Allan Poe”

  1. Interesting info on short story vs novel form. I’ve enjoyed perusing your blog 🙂

    • Thanks! I thought it was a very interesting insight too. I immediately thought of books I had put down to “rest” emotionally before continuing, and remembered short stories that ripped my heart out before I knew what was happening. Smart man that mr. poe.

  2. Dan Meadows says:

    Nice tribute to Mr. Poe. I totally neglected his literary criticism and his contributions to science fiction in my recent argument that he’s the greatest American writer. Just goes to show how rich and deep his body of work really was. And I don’t think Sherlock Holmes would have been nearly the character he was if it hadn’t been for Poe. His sleuth, C. Auguste Dupin, sported all the traits of Holmes’ logical deductive reasoning. If anything, Holmes is an extension of Dupin.


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