Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Edgar Allan Poe

"There comes Poe, with his raven, like Barnaby Rudge,
Three-fifths of him genius and two-fifths sheer fudge,
Who talks like a book of iambs and pentameters,
In a way to make people of common-sense damn metres,
Who has written some things quite the best of their kind,
But the heart somehow seems all squeezed out by the mind..."
--James Russell Lowell, A Fable For Critics, VI. Poe and Longfellow, Read book online


Nearly everything Poe wrote, including the spooky stories for which he is best remembered, has this virtuosic, showy, lilting, and slightly wilting quality, like a peony just past bloom. --Jill Lepore, The Humbug: Edgar Allan Poe and the economy of horror, The New Yorker, April 27, 2009 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Poe was a literary writer ne plus ultra, a hero to Verlaine and Baudelaire, an avatar to Romantics, Symbolists and Surrealists. But he is also a giant precursor to today's genre writing: the acknowledged father of the detective story, thanks to his story "The Murders in the Rue Morgue"; the godfather of American horror writing and filmmaking (take a bow, Vincent Price); and a kindly uncle to science fiction tradition, thanks to his hoax stories and his influence on H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. --Jim Higgins, 'Life Cut Short' traces Poe's enduring influence, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 18, 2008, review of Poe: A Life Cut Short, by Peter Ackroyd

A good story, Poe wrote, must have "a single effect." Every element must work together to put "the soul of the reader" at the writer's mercy. In his tales of terror and his stories of ratiocination, considered early examples of detective fiction, Poe is the master of this "single effect." --Carole E. Barrowman, Toast Poe's birthday with tales new and old, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 17, 2009, review of In the Shadow of The Master: Classic Tales by Edgar Allan Poe, edited by Michael Connelly, and On a Raven's Wing: New Tales in Honor of Edgar Allen Poe, edited by Stuart Kaminsky

For promoting Poe, no city can compete with Baltimore, which named its football team the Ravens in his honor. It also has the Poe birthday tradition that fascinates the public - each year, a mysterious visitor leaves a half-full bottle of cognac and three red roses at his original gravesite. --Ben Nuckols, Cities battle over Poe's legacy, Associated Press, WTOP

In the “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” the first detective story ever written, one can feel the trepidation and excitement of C. Auguste Dupin as he wanders the winding streets of Paris in the dead of the night. Poe knew man’s inner conflict better than most, and expressed it fifty years before Freud bought his first couch. --Edward Lawrence, Poe Man’s Immortality: The great author lives on in comic books, cartoons, and wherever dark secrets of the human heart are written, Humanities, September/October 2008

Poe: An Assay (I), poem by Jane Hirshfield, Threepenny Review, Fall 2003

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