greenspun.com : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

On May 29th, I'm giving a speech on E.A. Poe, is there any main points in his life that I could mention that are interesting? At the begining of my speech I will be reading exerpts from "The Raven" to get my classmates more of a feel of his work; I know, of course, I will be mentioning his writings and how they have impacted me and others. Thnks for your time and help:)

-- Anonymous, May 21, 2001


The information on www.eapoe.org is the most complete and careful. Poe wrote about making "The Raven" in his essay "The Poetic Principle" (also on that website). He was likely only partially truthful about how he wrote it and does not connect it intimately to his personal life(his wife was very much alive at this point). Also suggest "The Bells" and the short poem "To Helen" and of course the poem "Alone" which has become quite popular.

Poe's reputation has been afflicted with malicious slanders dating from his death. His enemies' influence is still quite suggestive today and seems to go hand in hand with our usual identification of Poe with terror tales. He had quite an intellectual breadth of accomplishment although often confined to making small fortunes for his publishers in short magazine pieces. "The Raven" was an enormous hit at the time, moreso than any other American poem. Poe suffered a lot from poverty, from making enemies in the literary world(also many friends). Married his cousin Virginia Poe who later died of tuberculosis plunging Poe into a desperate attempt to get his life back together, but ended in a rather mysterious death in Baltimore. He was NOT a depraved, insane dope fiend and constant alcoholic. When he WAS drinking he was probably not writing very well and only his portrayals of the mind of an alcoholic bear some semblance to what he may have felt(though he was no more murderous or bizarre than Stephen King or most other writers). He was extremely talented and rather alone on the new American literary scene as a unique critical genius. Athletic, good swimmer, liked cats, gardening, new sciences and inventions. Poe's influence is almost always first through the emotions, as his poetical work always intended, then you learn the great lyrical skills he employed and that a poem should "not mean but be" as MacLeish I think summarizes it. Like the great poets he treads the line between this world and another until the spell becomes as near magic as is possible for words alone. The first serious American critic(Tomahawk Poe) merciless against bad writing. The inventor and exemplar of the modern detective story. Innovator and uniquely great in his influence on poetry, the theory of the short story and enriching the magazine format with special features like puzzle contrests. The great champion of art for art's sake and forerunner of symbolist poetry, especially in France.

-- Anonymous, May 22, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ