How was most of Poe's work been influenced by his drug and drinking problem? : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

I need this information to do an essay and any answer could really help. Thanks! Q.P.

-- Anonymous, April 16, 2000


Drugs and alcohol really didn't have much effect on Poe. In fact there is probably only two real factors that affected his writings. One is death especially of women. Poe had lost many women that were close to him. Second Poe is really not the great writer many people make him seem. For most of his life Poe had to write to be able to earn a living. Part of Poe's problem was he had to write what the publisher's liked at not really what he wanted to. Also Poe was writing these poems and short stories rather quickly and not spending alot of time on them. If you were to take all of Poe's work that he ever written and read them you would realize that a good percentage of what he wrote was pure garbage. This is only because Poe was rarely at his best when writing. A prime example of this is the fall of the house of Usher. People glorify this short story today but the fact is noone can read the story without consulting a dictionary. This is because he wrote it in a hurry. This also brings up another of poe's weaknesses, his vocabulary. Poe had a vast knowledge for the English language and he'd loved to show it off thus leaving many of his readers (19th century and even today) confused. You really cant get a good quality essay on your topic especially since most of poe's drug and alcohol stints came when times were low and he didnt write much.

-- Anonymous, April 17, 2000

From what I have read, Poe's work was not directly influenced by it since all who observed him at work state that he was sober when he worked and he was very conscientious and dilligent.

I suppose you can say that drug and drinking problem did creep into his work--the man who is walled up in "The Cask of Amontillado" (Fortunato? the name escapes me) is lured to his doom by his weakness for drink. Often dream or trancelike states are compared to the mental states of one drunk or under the influence of opium. The narrator of "The Black Cat" is led to mutilating and murdering animals and killing his wife by "The Fiend Intemperance". Like many people with drug problems, I am reminded of the novelist Donald Goines, Poe's work was often strongly against substance abuse.

Much, I daresay most of his work features characters who are supremely sober, I am speaking here of his detective Auguste Dupin among others.

I guess since his work featured somnabulism and supernatural themes people have taken it that he dreamed up or wrote these stories while under the influence--nothing could be further from the truth. Poe was writing to a market and there was a market for such work and as I stated above, such careful, intricate writing as he produced would be impossible in a drug or alchohol addled state.

Of course, his work was indirectly influenced in a way; he blew jobs and made enemies and was sometimes in an impecunious state due to things he did while under the influence, and was forced to write to make money--maybe leading him to have to write scary tales to make ends meet.

Hope it helps. (And hope you aint doing anything you'll get busted for like someone else I answered on this site!)

-- Anonymous, April 20, 2000


Having had a long time affection for American Literature in general, I have always had an abiding interest in the biographies of many of Edgars contemporaries including Hawthorne, Melville and others. What I have found is that there are few authors of the day that command the fascination and study that Poe appears to provoke and I willingly confess my own obsession with Edgar. Poe biographies abound from Griswold to Ingram to A H Quinn to Silverman. I have read several over the years and the one that, to my mind, is far and above the rest in terms of accuracy was A H Quinns, Edgar Allan Poe  A Critical Biography. The worst always appeared to be those that leaped into the abyss of psychoanalysis and typically concluded that Poes works were a textual model for the life he led.

I have said it before and I will again, that I agree that some sense of the man, some meager insights or flavors, if you will, of Edgar can be found in most his writing. He was known to be extraordinarily witty and sometimes mischievous and I often perceive some of this playfulness in his tales such as, Never Bet The Devil Your Head. His fits of depression and cynicism are there as are his moods of anger, frustration and despair. But so is his humor, his interest in science and his fascination with human behavior and weaknesses.

I concur with your assessment relative to the direct and indirect effects that alcohol abuse may have had on his writing and career. While poetry was his passion, I am convinced he saw all his works as a path to his own literary freedom, his magazine, The Stylus. This would have given Edgar sole authority to write and publish what he wished and how he wished and not have to yield to the social and literary whims of the New York Literati. I think, ultimately, Poe was determined to play a role in the evolution of American literature and to a large degree, he has been a major influence over the last 150 years.

There is one minor point on which I respectfully disagree, however. My own interpretation of Fortunatos role in The Cask of Amontillado was not so much that Montresor was able to lure Fortunato to his doom as a result of Fortunatos weakness for drink. But rather more as a result of Fortunatos own insufferable arrogance. Fortunato had fancied himself a connoisseur of fine wines and Montresor gleefully used this weakness in his planning for he knew that Fortunato would easily succumb to the flattery of being asked to authenticate the Amontillado purchase. Montresors revenge was only sweeter as a result of Fortunatos arrogance.

Best Regards,

-- Anonymous, April 20, 2000

I don't think I could adamantly disagree with you more, I find it absolutely ludicrous and appaling that you have the audacity to reference the allusion that Poe's work is inferior and not to the level that it could have been. Mentioning the fact that his work was not acceptable due to editorial pressure, I simply demand proof. My research has been quite the contrary, my friend, my research states that Poe never supported himself as a writer, if it all. He supported himself in the military for a brief stint, then continued migrating city to city writing critical analysis essentially butchering the average writers of his time. Another thing--if you can not get through "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," without a dictionary in hand, I think that says enough in itself, and makes you suspect to posting your opinions to others that are trying to learn something. Credentials I lack, however, I do understand Poe well enough to realize that his exceptional vocabulary does not make him an average writer, if anything it transcends that entire basis. Further, the abyss of vocabulary that Poe worked with made certain of the fact that he did not rush through projects to meet editorial demands. In short, I disagree with everything you said. Thank you, I am now finished

-- Anonymous, April 20, 2000

All I really have to say is thanks for straitening that out larry. Ben Duos

-- Anonymous, April 25, 2000

I'm with Ben on that one.

-- Anonymous, September 26, 2000

I agree completely!

-- Anonymous, October 04, 2000

ME 2!!

-- Anonymous, January 11, 2001

Yep. Uh-huh.

-- Anonymous, January 28, 2001

Yeah well, I totally disagree. I feel that Edgaer Allan Poe's writing was heavily influenced by drugs and alcohol. But yet, when did he ever have drugs. It's not like they shot heary and sniffed coce. Maybe a few L's every few hours but I seriously doubt that one too. i think that the man was so devasted about losing his mother when he was only a mere 2 and his girlfriend to another man when he came back from college. This is what influenced his writings because you can see that in almost all his stories which I have read, something bad happens to a woman. Hint hint!!! If something bad happens to a woman then he is probably talking about his girlfriend but if it is something towards a character that didn't deserve it and it was completely unexpected and the cast in the book is broken by this then it is about his mother and if it is about a young girl and something good happens then it is about his cousin... WHICH HE MARRIED!! I FIND THAT TOTALLY AWSOME!! I love insest especially between two sisters!!! That turns me right on!!!!

-- Anonymous, April 11, 2002

Larry, you failed to end your sentence with a period.

-- Anonymous, April 18, 2002

Osama Jr.? Learn to spell and get a life, you ass.

-- Anonymous, April 29, 2003

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