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Edgar Allan Poe

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Alexandra Birr

on 26 September 2012

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Transcript of Edgar Allan Poe

Presentation by Alexandra Birr Edgar Allan Poe The Life of
Edgar Allan Poe The World
of the
Nineteenth Century Notable Works Genres and Poe's
Impact on the Future The Early Years •Born Jan 19, 1809 in Boston
•Parents: Elizabeth and David Poe
•Two siblings: William and Rosalie
•David was a poor actor
oWas angry
oLeft family in July 1811 (Poe 2 yrs old)
oMother died of TB months later
•Adopted by John and Frances Allan
oCharitable people
oFrances: nurturing • Adopted by John and Frances Allan
o Charitable people
o Frances: nurturing • Private education in England and the US
• Entered University of Virginia
o Gambling and drinking debt
• Returned as a clerk, ran off and joined army
• Remained in contact with Frances
o Felt guilty after she died of TB
• John got him out of army and into United
States Military Academy at West Point
o Not supportive
• Poe got himself kicked out and went into
publishing Education Years •Went to live with Maria Poe Clemm
and her daughter Virginia
•Virginia “Sissy”
•Proposed to Virginia at age 12
•Married her at age 13, with Maria's blessing
•After 6 years Virginia ruptured a blood vessel
oDied 5 years later Later life and Marriage o1838: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym
o1840: Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque
o1841: “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”
o1845: The Raven and Other Poems
o1845: Tales by Edgar A. Poe Death •October 3, 1849: found delirious in
Baltimore, Maryland
oTaken to Washington Hospital
•October 7, 1849: Death
•Murder? Suicide? Illness?
oMost likely not alcoholism Notable Works U.S. Rapid Expansion • Pop from 7 million to 22 million
o Births and immigration
• Texas and Mexican War
• Railroads
• Rise of publishing
o Many magazines for entertainment,
but some for rapid dispersion of
information Science Fiction Poe as a Critic • Poe had very defined ideas of how poetry
and prose should be
o Some say he was holding himself as
the ideal
o But he worked with magazines: brief,
unified, complete
o Supernalist Aesthetics: The mystic is
like a musical accompaniment Brevity Unification Completeness The Philosophy
of Composition o Poe’s work is “mathematical”
o Beauty is elevation of the soul. It is an
effect, not a quality
o Truth and Passion are more attainable in prose
o Originality • Could be very scathing
o “Drake-Halleck Review”
 Criticized elevating natural objects (like waves)
o Made many enemies
• Cooke
o “His commendation of certain writers seemed to be arbitrary
and to result from personal feeling”
o “Nothing pleased this man of genius, busying himself with
small things, more than minute criticism and dissection of the
style of some eminent writer.”

• Griswold
o Wrote scathing obituary, destroyed Poe’s reputation
o Redemption didn’t come until mid 20th century The Grotesque and Arabesque "The Black Cat" •Very successful
o Parody: “The Ghost of Grey Tradition”
oNative Son by Richard Wright
• Narrator is calm and unremorseful
o Blames actions on cat
o Subjective narration
• Irony: Contrast between what
is apparent and what is real
• Satire: Contrast between
events and telling • Response to Ad Hominem attack by
Thomas Dunn English
• Set in 1780’s
• Gothic minus supernatural humans
• Catholic vs. Mason
• Fortunato as a scapegoat,
what Montressor has lost
• Montressor appeals to
Fortunato’s pride The Cask of Amontillado • Gothic
• Subjective narration
• Insistence on sanity
and evidence otherwise
o Beating heart
o Obsession with sanity
o Curse of the eye "The Tell-Tale Heart" The Grotesque and Arabesque Subjective Narration Detective Mysteries Science Fiction • Characteristics
o Extend the current experience of
time, space, and matter
o Scientifically specific
o Futuristic technology
o Travel
o Setting in space or other worlds
• Poe’s stories
o “The Unparalleled Adventure of
One Hans Pfall”
o “MS. Found in a Bottle”
o “Eiros and Charmion” • Detective with idiosyncrasies
• Deductive logic
• Narration from the POV of an
• Ruling out other alternatives
• Sees individual pieces of a large
• Inspired Sherlock Holmes and
Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot • “Unreliable narrator”
• Narrator is biased
o Unaware/uncaring of bias
• First person past tense
• Story is told after conclusion
of events "The Balloon Hoax" •Two parts: the balloon and
the journal
•Very scientific description of
•Used real people to add credibility
•Tricked many people
•Newspaper revealed truth after
2 days Detective Mystery • Outside view of the detective
• Narrator prompts Dupin’s
• Odd and unforeseeable ending "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" Poe Narrators!! • Gothic elements
• Grotesque
o Monstrosities out of realities
o Horror
o Satire
o Terror
o Ambiguous time/place
• Human supernatural Poe Museum Museums... the Ultimate Stalkers Dedicated to showing the life and accomplishments of the real Edgar Allan Poe... “Called ‘America's Shakespeare,’
Edgar Allan Poe created or
mastered the short story,
detective fiction, science fiction,
lyric poetry and the horror story...”
- The Poe Museum • Work as a Publisher:
o Berenice
o Edit too political texts to make them neutral
o Book saying slavery is good for masters and slaves, many thought it
was Poe’s view
o Novel sales fell during the depression of
1837-43, but newspaper sales boomed
• Poe was dedicated to magazines
o Wanted his own
o Critic, tale writer, poet
o “Unless the journalist collects his various
articles he is liable to be grossly misconceived
and misjudged.” Poe the Publisher • Religion beginning to be questioned by new scientific discoveries
• Beginnings of Underground Railroad
• Panic of 1837
• Federal subsidies
• Revolutions in Europe
Other Events
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