What is it about Edgar Allan Poe that makes him distinctly American?

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What is it about Edgar Allan Poe that made him distinctly an American in the 1800's?

-- Anonymous, May 16, 2002


Distinct as a southerner too. You might get a start on that in Poe's own evaluation of the American scene in his essays(www.eapoe.org). He too wanted a an American literature, not merely a raising up of mediocre authors or the issue of imitiating or not imitating the eight hundred pound gorilla overseas. He himself ehibits exuberance, optimism, love of progress and new sciences with an innoncent rough candor that in now ways is European.

On the other hand he was disturbed by the effects of urban growth and the destruction of nature and still was not politically engaged. His southern background made him accepting of slavery(personal attitudes seemingly not much different than Lincoln and other contemporaries), desirous of the life of the middle class gentleman, bitter about his poverty and his editors. More of a romantic of the heart compared to the Northern literary establishment. His philosophy is more personal and intuitive than transcendental yet they all shared that expansive impetus, non-denominational deism, faith in democracy versus kings and tyranny.

In his fiction you might get the impression, from the genre and settings originating from Europe, the touch of death and decay that such is not the case. Poe is not a simple character, and in his bold originality itself you see the emergent Amemrican writer, someone who could contribute back to the European scene something more than frontier stories with local color. So there are many articles to read on one characteristic or another.

-- Anonymous, May 17, 2002

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