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why is it important for high school students to learn about Edgar Allan Poe's work????
-- Anonymous, September 05, 2002
Now we know the school year is well under way. Among our early literary pioneers and genuises Poe is the most greatest and most unique,in my opinion anyway. Later you can make the case for the new England writers like Hawthorne, Melville, and Emerson then Twain etc. but Poe was not only great but exceptionally different. His main achievements should be studied together and not just the gothic tales and a few poems.
Invented the modern detective genre with many of its main elements, structure and plotlines. Elevated the Gothic tale in masterpieces of the short story using a powerful theory of presenting a unifed effect. Literary theory on stories and poetry and real biting literary criticism instead of imitative hype. Argued for a quality American literature neither just derivative from British culture nor praised just for being American. A masterful poet in a small opus of short works that opened a new door to symbolism for later poets, beginning with the French, again playing melody and restrained imagery to a maximum single effect. Someone who despite his reticence about talking about himself nonetheless bares the emotions of the soul more powerfully than his contemporaries without falling back on conventions and flowery language. His difficult life became wholly devoted to literature and is a story worth knowing in itself.
Also, despite being a deep nineteenth century romantic who did not spare the difficult philosophy and obscure references, his desire for short, simple communication of a single effect makes them easier to get or at least feel even if the details remain cloudy. sometimes they were meant to be just to provide an atmosphere as much as an explanation. If you remember that you won't fall into the trap(that Poe derided) of trying to uncover every little meaning,or the other trap(equally derided by Poe) of just looking for a sensationalist horror story.
-- Anonymous, September 06, 2002