Poe influenced by drugs?

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My daughter's English teacher suggested that E.A. Poe's works were influenced by drugs. Is this rumor or is there some truth to it?

-- Anonymous, June 26, 2002


Poe did not think so or at least only spoke pof alcoholism to refute his addiction and make the typical excuses. For real insight read Stephen King's section on that subject(from personal experience) in "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft" and Poe's disciple Baudeliare "Les Paradis Artificiels".

It is dangerous to presume the only access to imagination is a brain disrupting and distorting drug where the habit becomes a damaging filter for the real creative process. Poe was not a druggie, but an alcoholic and his imaginary tendencies predated his habit.

-- Anonymous, June 26, 2002

Isn't it true the drink of his choice (or one of them rather) was absinthe, or wormwood, a sort of green liqueur known to cause mild hallucinations? Is this fact or myth and where did a drink like this have its roots, medieval ages?

-- Anonymous, July 07, 2002

No, it is NOT true that Poe's favorite drink was Absinthe. In fact, there is no reliable record of him ever drinking that concoction -- wild and unsupported speculations by later commentators do not count. If you have a source that would contradict me, by all means post it here. (I believe there is a report that his friend Henry B. Hirst may have drunk absinthe.)

-- Anonymous, July 07, 2002

Its as I thought then, hrmm, myth.

Ernest Hemingway has been quoted as saying he himself has had Absinthe, in one instance that comes to mind where he's moved home.

"Itís the best place (Key West) Iíve ever been anytime, anywhere, flowers, tamarind trees, guava trees, coconut palms...Got tight last night on absinthe and did knife tricks."

-- Anonymous, July 08, 2002

acknowledges that much Gothic literature is schlock. But we're hiding behind cultural cachet when we divorce "Wuthering Heights" or Poe's "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" from their own luridness, and when we do so, we separate their greatness from their power. In Daniel Handler's hilarious new novel "The Basic Eight" (a thoroughly rebellious take on teenage violence) a pop psychologist -- who, vampire-like, has fed her career on the blood of murdered schoolchildren -- notes that Edgar Allan Poe "took absinthe and yet is still a respected novelist and short story writer in America and elsewhere." That's the authentic voice of boredom triumphant, of the cultural value of "responsible" mediocrity that has been drilled into generations of schoolkids. In "Lost Souls" Poppy Z. Brite describes the voice (as heard by her protagonist, a kid called Nothing) this way:

In Nothing's English class the next day, Mrs. Margaret Peebles plunged her hypodermic of higher learning into "Lord of the Flies" and sucked out every drop of its primal magic, every trace of its adolescent wonder.

("Perhaps," Mrs. Peebles drones, "you can tell me about the rivalry between Jack and Ralph. What allows it to grow so bitter?")

Is it any wonder then that Goth, with its transgressiveness, its bloody visceral charge, its romanticized alienation and dreamy, languorous self-pity, holds such an allure for adolescents? In his prologue, Davenport-Hines makes the point that Gothic uses passivity as a tool with which to subvert the balance of power.

The suggestion that submission is empowering is often reiterated by Goth writers. Dominance and subordination ... provide one of Gothic's themes. So does inversion ... Gothic's estrangement from the dominant cultural values of every age produces both its protean qualities and the obsession of its practitioners with transgression: All Goth writers worth any attention are forever returning to that immortality which defies or subverts ruling authority, and thus provides power-systems' necessary dark antithesis.

For teenagers who feel themselves alternately ignored or put upon by those who have authority over them, what could be better? Goth provides, simultaneously, an outlet for teen rebellion and an invitation to wallow in teen self-pity. Like the punks did, Goth kids attempt to transform what they perceive as the ugliness of the world around them by co-opting that ugliness as a form of beauty that is itself an affront to conventional notions of what is beautiful. Goth's preoccupation with death and ruin intensifies in its young practitioners an awareness of youth as a fleeting state, perfect for kids who see themselves as doomed and glorious creatures. Cradled in the mind-set of Goth, each and every one can envision himself as a Grand Guignol Byron. And that, in turn, feeds into Goth's inherent theatricality, dear to the heart of adolescents' trying on styles to establish their own identities.

-- Anonymous, October 01, 2002

poe was not a drunkard, but was an avid absinthe consumer. know what you're talking about before you post a response-->(none@yahoo.com).

-- Anonymous, November 22, 2002

Poe was notoriously fond of opium and of Pernod, which he most certainly wrote of in his stories and was, at the time, the big distributor of commercial Absinthe. The popular method of drinking Absinthe was to cocktail it with a bit of Laudanum, an opiate tincture.

To suggest that his works weren't largely influenced by his excursions with these 'substances' is outright lunacy.

-- Anonymous, September 27, 2003

There is no evidence that Poe used Absinthe, nor that he was "notoriously fond of opium." Lunacy is claiming things that have no foundation. People who have not done the research should abstain from asserting opinions. Poe's works are not, repeat NOT, influenced by drugs. One can write about horses without being a horse.

-- Anonymous, September 29, 2003

And for "Alexander Stoner," I do know what I'm talking about -- do you? I would like to see you post your sources for information that Poe ever used Absinthe. Let's see who knows what one is talking about, and who is just blowing smoke.

-- Anonymous, September 29, 2003

Let's be realistic. The words of this man are clearly driven by some sort of hallucinogen (Absinthe). It would have been very prevalant in his time and readily available among artistic characters (writers, artists, etc.). We have good reason to believe Poe was a victim of the wormwood derivative but it's only skepticism.

-- Anonymous, December 15, 2003

Poe was most certaintly not influenced by the use of drugs, his alcoholism stemmed from his body's inability to absorb even small amounts of alcohol, a medical condition he tried desperately to overcome and not the result of extensive partying. There is no account of Poe ever using drugs, any thoughts to the contrary are the result of the ghastly stereotype that all artists and writers of that time period ingested drugs because of their availability or the even more ghastly stereotype that all unique thought must be the result of mind altering substances. In regards to Absinthe, which is a liquor and not a drug, it was far more popular in France than in the United States, and never mentioned in Poe's literature. For heavy and frequent Absinthe users look towards Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, and Hemmingway.

-- Anonymous, December 30, 2003

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