what affect did Poe's life have on his writting?

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I need to know before Thursday

-- Anonymous, October 04, 2000


There is a great deal of popular lore surrounding the life of Poe, particularly in relation to the methods of his work and the reflection of himself within that work. Most of the myths regarding Poe as a divinely inspired madman on opium are interesting, though utterly groundless fictions. Much of the misinformation about him was perpetuated by certain rival contemporaries, along with some essays by the French poet Charles Baudelaire who, though he was a great fan, was terribly misinformed. It is true that Poe was a heavy drinker, falling periodically into binges, but that is about as reckless as he could get. He tried opium only once and his reaction to it was less than pleasant. To put it bluntly, Poe ruined his best shirt as a result of his opium experience. The man was a 9 to 5 magazine editor and critic whose life was, for the most part, pretty button down. I confess to being something of what Eliot would call a new critic, but with Poe it is important to segregate biographical information from his works as much as possible. As with authors like Robert Browning, Poe was a master of persona, crafting masterfully complicated psychological sketches, but these characters are not a reflection of himself. One may be able to trace some parallels between Poe and certain elements of his stories, but we must remember that a writer must write what he knows, as the clichi goes, and that these elements are used only as tools to give his pure fiction a taste of being truly genuine. My basic conclusion is this: look for the mind in the works of Poe, the glimpse into the realm of the ideal and grotesque, but do not look for Poe himselfyou will not find him there. The main effects Poes life had on his writing, or the major ones, I would say, is the fact that he was a writer who published a large part of his work in magazines where he got paid by the page. This may have affected his text in some way. Also, as a magazine editor, Poe had his finger on the pulse of the nation. He thus knew exactly what the people wanted and that is exactly what he gave them. I hope I have been of some help. Good luck.

-- Anonymous, October 09, 2000

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