Edgar Allan Poe
EDGAR ALLAN POE
[19 January 1809–7 October 1849]
is widely recognized as a luminary in the genre of horror fiction, a pioneer in the genre of science fiction, and the progenitor of the modern detective story. In his own words his early life is outlined as follows. "My father and mother died within a few weeks of each other, of consumption, leaving me an orphan at two years of age. Mr. John Allan, a very wealthy gentleman of Richmond, VA., took a fancy to me, and persuaded my grandfather, General Poe, to suffer him to adopt me. Was brought up in Mr. Allan’s family, and regarded always as his son and heir — he having no other children. In 1816 went with Mr. Allan’s family to Great Britain — visited every portion of it — went to school for 5 years to the Rev. Doctor Bransby, at Stoke Newington, then 4 miles from London. Returned to America in 1822. In 1825 went to the Jefferson University at Charlottesville, VA., where for 3 years I led a very dissipated life — the college at that period being shamefully dissolute. Dr. Dunglison of Philadelphia, President. Took the first honors, however, and came home greatly in debt. Mr. Allan refused to pay some of the debts of honor, and I ran away from home without a dollar on a quixotic expedition to join the Greeks, then struggling for liberty. Failed in reaching Greece, but made my way to St. Petersburg, in Russia. Got into many difficulties, but was extricated by the kindness of Mr. H. Middleton, the American consul at St. Petersburg. Came home safe in 1829, found Mrs. Allan dead, and immediately went to West Point as a Cadet. In about 18 months afterwards Mr. Allan married a second time (a Miss Patterson, a near relative of General Winfield Scott) — he being then 65 years of age. Mrs. Allan and myself quarrelled, and he, siding with her, wrote me an angry letter, to which I replied in the same spirit. Soon afterwards he died, having had a son by Mrs. Allan, and, although leaving a vast property, bequeathed me nothing. The army does not suit a poor man — so I left West Point abruptly, and threw myself upon literature as a resource. I became first known to the literary world thus. A Baltimore weekly paper (The Visiter) offered two premiums — one for best prose story, one for best poem. The Committee awarded both to me, and took occasion to insert in the journal a card, signed by themselves, in which I was very highly flattered. The Committee were John P. Kennedy (author of Horse-Shoe Robinson), J. H. B. Latrobe and Dr. J. H. Miller. Soon after this I was invited by Mr. T. W. White, proprietor of the Southern Literary Messenger, to edit it. Afterwards wrote for New York Review at the invitation of Dr. Hawks and Professor Henry, its proprietors. Lately have written articles continuously for two British journals whose names I am not permitted to mention. In my engagement with Burton, it was not my design to let my name appear — but he tricked me into it." Poe was married to his cousin Virginia Clemm. They were licensed to marry, according to the Marriage Records of the City of Baltimore, on September 22, 1834. The records of St. Paul’s Church Parish, Baltimore, show that Virginia Clemm was born August 22, 1822. This was around the time that Poe was working for the Southern Literary Messenger. Poe later moved to New York and Philadelphia to write for various magazines and journals in an attempt to make a reasonable living. Despite these efforts Poe was continually in need of money. His wealth fluctuated between modest means and poverty. Payments from his literary work were meager and sporadic. Poe continually pushed for copyright reform in response to this sad state of affairs. After six years or so Poe's poem 'The Raven' won him international recognition. Some of this recognition had been building since the release of his famous detective series consisting of the trio, 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue', 'The Mystery of Marie Roget', and 'The Purloined Letter'. What arguably should have been the start of Poe's most productive period, was rather the beginning of his most depressing. The year 1845 saw bitter feuds with Poe's poetic contemporaries and the closure of the 'Broadway Journal' where Poe had risen to the position of editor and proprietor. Over the following two years Poe was reduced to abject poverty. His wife died of consumption in 1847 leaving Poe lonely and melancholy. Shortly following the death of his wife, Poe himself was beset by illness, during which he continued to write. After recovering from this bout of illness, he travelled to and fro between Lowell, New York, and Providence, lecturing on the Poetic Principle. Poe was at this time likely engaged in some form of substance abuse. The particulars are muddled and likely blown out of proportion by certain popular false personal accounts of his exploits made after his death for the purpose of slandering Poe. However, it is factual that he was taken in by friends and relatives and made to swear an oath of temperance. This was followed by a short period of convalescence in his home town, which is recounted in James A. Harrison's biography as follows. "This little visit shed an Indian summer glow over the life of the poet that lingers still in the memory of some who saw him." This period was followed by a fateful journey to New York from which he never returned. He died mysteriously in Baltimore, Maryland on October 7, 1849.
- Written by F.J. Palladino
Edgar Allan Poe on the Web:
Featuring some context for the works of Poe!
||THE COLLECTION OF LITERARY WORKS
"At first he stared at me as if he found it impossible to comprehend the witticism of my remark; but as its point seemed slowly to make its way into his brain, his eyes in the same proportion, seemed protruding from their sockets. Then he grew very red — then hideously pale — then, as if highly amused with what I had insinuated, he began a loud and boisterous laugh, which, to my astonishment, he kept up, with gradually increasing vigor, for ten minutes or more. In conclusion, he fell flat and heavily upon the deck. When I ran to uplift him, to all appearance he was dead."
- The Oblong Box
"Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing; Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;"
- The Raven
"Is all that we see or seem; But a dream within a dream?"
- A Dream Within a Dream
"Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief — oh, no! — it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. "
- The Tell-Tale Heart
'I felt that I must scream or die! — and now — again! — hark! louder! louder! louder! louder! —
“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! — tear up the planks! — here, here! — it is the beating of his hideous heart!”'
- The Tell-Tale Heart
"You have conquered, and I yield. Yet, henceforward art thou also dead — dead to the World, to Heaven and to Hope! In me didst thou exist — and, in my death, see by this image, which is thine own, how utterly thou hast murdered thyself."
- William Wilson
"We should bear in mind that, in general, it is the object of our newspapers rather to create a sensation - to make a point - than to further the cause of truth."
- The Mystery of Marie Rogêt
"Whether people grow fat by joking, or whether there is something in fat itself which predisposes to a joke, I have never been quite able to determine,"
"As poet and mathematician, he would reason well; as mere mathematician, he could not have reasoned at all,"
- The Purloined Letter
"And then there stole into my fancy, like a rich musical note, the thought of what sweet rest there must be in the grave."
- The Pit and the Pendulum
"They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night."
"But as in ethics, evil is a consequence of good, so in fact, out of joy is sorrow born. Either the memory of past bliss is the anguish of today, or the agonies which are have their origin in the ecstasies which might have been."
"It will be found, in fact, that the ingenious are always fanciful, and the truly imaginative never otherwise than analytic."
- The Murders in the Rue Morgue
"You hard-hearted, dunder-headed, obstinate, rusty, crusty, musty, fusty, old savage!"
- Three Sundays in a Week
'But, as I placed my hand upon his shoulder, there came a strong shudder over his whole person; a sickly smile quivered about his lips; and I saw that he spoke in a low, hurried, and gibbering murmur, as if unconscious of my presence. Bending closely over him, I at length drank in the hideous import of his words.
“Not hear it? — yes, I hear it, and have heard it. Long — long — long — many minutes, many hours, many days, have I heard it — yet I dared not — oh, pity me, miserable wretch that I am! — I dared not — I dared not speak! We have put her living in the tomb! Said I not that my senses were acute? I now tell you that I heard her first feeble movements in the hollow coffin. I heard them — many, many days ago — yet I dared not — I dared not speak!"'
- The Fall of the House of Usher
"But may God shield and deliver me from the fangs of the Arch-Fiend! No sooner had the reverberation of my blows sunk into silence, than I was answered by a voice from within the tomb! — by a cry, at first muffled and broken, like the sobbing of a child, and then quickly swelling into one long, loud, and continuous scream, utterly anomalous and inhuman — a howl — a wailing shriek, half of horror and half of triumph, such as might have arisen only out of hell, conjointly from the throats of the dammed in their agony and of the demons that exult in the damnation."
- The Black Cat
"It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation."
- The Cask of Amontillado
"I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity."
- Letter to George W. Eveleth
"Years of love have been forgot, in the hatred of a minute."
- To ——
"And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."
- The Masque of the Red Death
'It was well said of a certain German book that "er lasst sich nicht lesen"- it does not permit itself to be read. There are some secrets which do not permit themselves to be told.'
- The Man of the Crowd
"There is no exquisite beauty, . . . without some strangeness in the proportion."
"Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see."
- The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
"Where there is much show, there is seldom anything very solid behind."
- Diddling, Considered as One of the Exact Sciences
"At midnight, in the month of June,
I stand beneath the mystic moon.
An opiate vapour, dewy, dim,
Exhales from out her golden rim,"
- The Sleeper
"I found myself within a strange city, where all things might have served to blot from recollection the sweet dreams I had dreamed so long in the Valley of the Many-Colored Grass."
"In no affairs of mere prejudice, pro or con, do we deduce inferences with entire certainty, even from the most simple data."
- The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym
'Out — out are the lights — out all!
And, over each quivering form,
The curtain, a funeral pall,
Comes down with the rush of a storm,
While the angels, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, “Man,”
And its hero the Conqueror Worm.'
- The Conqueror Worm
|20 April 2019:
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