was poe a nice person?greenspun.com : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread
was poe a nice person?
-- Anonymous, March 21, 2000
Well Ariel, while the simple answer is Yes, Edgar was a nice person., the answer seems somehow lacking and obviously begs further comment. Honestly, I am at a loss to understand the intent of your question but I will attempt to answer it as honestly as I am able. Surely you must understand, however, that what I might consider a nice person, you may find them to be quite insufferable. Therefore, I would have to ask you what attributes, character and general demeanor of a person would lead you to accept as true that the individual was a nice person?
For example, would you expect that person to be a pleasant individual, one who is pleasing in appearance, in manner, or other personal qualities?
Born in 1809, his mother died when he was but two years old and his father had already left her with three young children. Poe was taken into the home of his adoptive parents, John and Frances Allan. While he was never legally adopted, he was raised as the young master of the house by this wealthy Virginia landowner and tobacco merchant. He was very well educated, well read and had considerable exposure to Latin, French, Spanish studies. German as well, I believe. He excelled in classic mythology, both Roman and Greek while in school and had an extraordinary imagination firmly supported by an outstanding ability and brilliant intellect. He was well versed in mathematics and science; maintained an interest in cryptography most of his life, but his lifes passion was poetry.
Edgar considered himself a Southern gentleman. He stood approximately 5 feet, 8 inches tall and was reported by Dr. Moran, the attending physician at his death, as weighing about 140 pounds. He was said to be a thin but well proportioned man that carried himself with an erect and distinguished military bearing. He has been described as perfectly proportioned and his movements as active and graceful, with hands truly remarkable for their roseate softness and ., feminine delicacy. You could have judged of his nobility by his hands. (E.A.P. Society of Baltimore at http://www.eapoe.org/ )
His hair was dark and wavy and receded to the high point of a broad and noble brow. His eyes were described variously as grayish blue or violet and contained an intrinsic, natural intelligence, awareness and curiosity. His voice was said to be masculine but soft and rarely raised in anger or alarm. His speech during his lectures was articulate and easy to follow and he spoke low with a Southern drawl. According to Mabbot (Poems, 1969, page xxv., E.A.P. Society of Baltimore) Poes Southern drawl may have been why he rhymed words like sister with vista and hanted with enchanted. (E.A.P. Society of Baltimore at http://www.eapoe.org/ )
Would you expect a nice person to be a good, kind, and polite person?
Certainly you would!. and Poe was often noted by his contemporaries as possessing these traits in abundance. He and his wife Virginia were said to have never exchanged an angry word and that each of them were utterly devoted to the other. Much has been made of his tales of horror, but Poe also wrote humor and satire. His detective tales were a major influence on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the model for Sherlock Holmes mysteries. His poetry is unmatched and many of his poetic principles and ideals are shared as valid today as in his time. He was also generous to a fault with some of the struggling poets and writers of the time. He was noted by many of his contemporaries as gracious, generous and a gentleman of high character. He gave freely of his time when asked to recite poetry and socialized frequently in literary circles of the time. Generally speaking, considering the difficulties Poe endured throughout his life, I truly feel he was a nice person. HOWEVER!
Toward his detractors, his enemies and his antagonists, he could be considered a formidable foe. Even though he was most often correct in his judgements, Poe was also known to be extraordinarily sharp in his criticisms and, at times could carry these views to extremes. His scathing commentary of Henry Wadsworth Longfellows alleged plagiarism of Poes own work was one instance. His satire could be inflammatory and some called it rather vicious and unnecessary.
He drank much more than was good for him and much too often to suit his family. There are reports that his Aunt, Maria Clemm, confronted him frequently for breaking his promise to stop drinking. There are reports that he drank laudanum, a mixture of alcohol and opium but in the early half of the 19th century, laudanum was an elixir used to ease the burdens of tuberculosis and other diseases by many people. Personally, I dont put much stock in the reports that he was addicted to drugs but there is some evidence that his problem with alcohol was habitual and I believe that he recognized this problem himself.
However, we must be judicious in our judgements of others especially those from another time. Just remember that times past is replete with temperate, sober, teetotalers that history has judged as monsters.
Overall, I truly think Poe was a good person. Certainly, the one person of history that I would have appreciated knowing personally. How about you, Ariel? What do you think?
-- Anonymous, March 24, 2000