How EAP influences us today : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

How has Poe influenced us today from his writing?

-- Anonymous, October 31, 2002


There are two directions for an answer. One is the continued popularity and exposure of Poe and his works, not to mention the detective story genre he originated, the literary criticism and magazine innovations(e.g. his puzzle page ciphers) and indeed his own persistent persona or legend. Horror, crime detection, dark anguished poetry, fantasy and the dysfunctional artist as legend and hero.

Two. That might help us with the more invisible contributions of Poe, namely the effect of his legacy on world and American letters. His slim poetic opus and his tales along with his theories and criticisms has championed a whole counter school of art(for it's own sake-Mallarme) or the victory of the romantic over the didactic, pedantic "serious" art. Justified or not, this influence can me seen in many imaginative writers and poets that came after. The names of these writers can often be put against the mainstream schools typifed in Poe's day by the Boston Transcendentalists, the New York Literati- or the industrial North's better educated and institutionally correct products. Poe might stand for old or ancient traditions,for creative genius, the South, the critiques against modernity, a mix of romance for progress or the antique balanced against the melancholic assaults upon nature, beauty or freedom.

I am afraid Poe's actual writing style has missed this generation in some ways. His musicality and lyricism is mocked or ignored in favor of his wildness or angst, the dark vision rather than the gold he spun out of the theme. His horror tales are much more thought out and artistic than the simple "scare factor" and fantasy element. Yet this is how nearly all readers see them. Yes, that effect is what he intended, commercially too, but the way he raised the genre to an art form and his own inner message and philosophy, since it appears to serve the impact purpose seem easy to ignore. Think Rod Serling and the TZ, where that thoughtful writer introduces each episode. Even as he eloquently added keynote profundity and mood I confess I was one of many who couldn't wait to skip to the chase. I remember one recent example of Kirk Douglas debating for art, or entertainment)with his co-producer Burt Lancaster who insisted on the priority of message. The exact same argument Poe made. First comes the power of art, then whatever message is naturally therein will be empowered. Otherwise, a hard truth is only a dead letter. Of course, Lancaster couldn't see that as his primary responsibility. The natural debate continues.

Much more of course than a message blurb like this can detail.

-- Anonymous, November 01, 2002

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