The Genius of Edgar Allan PoeEdgar Allan Poe remains today one of the most unique figures in American literary history. Critics have likened him to both Leonardo Da Vinci and the “Jingle Man” ; either the keystone of American literature or simply a writer of fashionable entertainment. As a person and a writer, Poe is also a collection of contradictions. One thing is for certain, few people have left a more lasting impression in the minds of readers than Poe. Subsequent authors have never been able to improve upon the style which Poe created and mastered. Poe’s tales have transcended generations of American readers and lasted through many shifts in literary thinking. One of the few things that is as strange and unique as Poe’s writings is the man himself. Poe created his unique, strange, and unsettling tales by testing the limits of the soul , walking the line between higher understanding and insanity.
A Redeemed Childhood
Edgar Allan Poe was born in 1809 in Baltimore, Maryland to two young actors named Eliza Arnold Hopkins and David Poe. When Poe was nearly three years old, his mother died from tuberculosis. This had a profound effect on the young Poe, who “always remembered -more or less unconsciously – his mother vomiting blood and being carried away from him forever by sinister men in black,” according to Roger Asselineau, professor of American literature at the Sorbonne, Paris. Within a number of days, David Poe, who was known to be an alcoholic, disappeared. Although he was never found, it is assumed that he ran off rather than died.
Fortunately, the young Edgar was taken in by John and Frances Allan of Richmond, Virginia, where Poe was with his family when his mother died. John Allan was a successful business …
…e” was a literary genius whose ability to tell tales of the “grotesque” and “arabesque” has still been unmatched. Poe was in many ways a slave to his gifts, and often tempted disaster. It was the fine line that he walked that made him the author he was, but ultimately it was a line he would fall off, destroying his life but making him immortal to readers of his unsettling stories.
Asselineau, Roger. Edgar Allan Poe. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1970.Chivers, Thomas H. PhD. Life of Poe. New York: E. P. Duton & Co., Inc., 1952.
Ketterer, David. Edgar Allan Poe: Life, Work, and Criticism. Fredericton, Canada: York Press LTD, 1989.
Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe His Life and Legacy. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1992.
Poe, Edgar A. Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Washington Square Press, Inc., 1965.