Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe’s Life

An American writer, poet, literary critique and editor, Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809. He was one of the important figures in the American Romantic Movement. His horror and mystery tales introduced the modern detective story. There is no other American fiction writer that could have created such horror atmospheres like he did. With his unique style of poems and stories, he captured the attention of readers across the globe.

Poe did not know his parents very well because his mother passed away when he was a child and his father left him quite early on. He lived with Frances and John Allan, who was a tobacco businessman. Later on, he developed a bond with Frances Allan (John’s wife) which did not ultimately succeed. Money was an issue for Poe, and a frustrated and heartbroken Poe left them.

Poe seemed to develop two kinds of aspirations in 1827. He published “Tamerlane and Other Poems”, which was his first book andthen he joined the army. In 1829, he published “Al Aaraaf, Tamberlane, and Minor Poems.” In 1830, he wrote his popular collection, “Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque”.

On October 3rd of 1849, Poe got seriously ill and was found in Baltimore Street. He was grieving for the death of his beloved wife Virginia and facing financial stress. The night before his death, he is reported to have called a name, “Reynolds”. According to the news reports, his death was due to “cerebral inflammation”, or “congestion of the brain” but the cause of his actual death is still a mystery.

Poe’s Works

The most frequently used themes in his works were questions about death like physical signs, decomposition effects, mourning and apprehension of premature burial. Most of his work was taken as a piece of dark romanticism against transcendentalism.  Also, his themes were related to mass-market interests. Often he concluded his fiction work with elements of pseudo sciences like physiognomy and phrenology. Poe’s literary theories are reflected in his writing including his criticism and essays like “The Poetic Principle”.On the other hand, he did not like allegory and didacticism. Though he believed in undercurrent meanings in literature,  he also believed that work should be obvious and brief to be understood.

In 1830, he wrote his popular collection of stories, “Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque” that contained several horror stories like “William Wilson” and ‘The Fall of the House of Usher”. In 1835, Poe returned to Richmond, leaving Baltimore and started working for a magazine “The Southern Literary Messenger”. He also published his novel “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.” The work that gave him great literary recognition was a popular poem “The Raven”, which was taken as a great piece of American literature.

Poe’s Style and Popular Poems

Poe wrote his fiction works in a Gothic style, a genre that attracted the attention of the public at large. Poe also had written humorous tales, hoaxes and satires. He employed ludicrous extravagance and irony in order to set free the audience from cultural orthodoxy. Poe published his first story, “Metzengerstein” which was intended to be as burlesque to satirize the contemporary genre. He also introduced science fiction in his writing by providing information about new technology like the hot air balloon used in the story “The Balloon Hoax”.

The most popular poems of Poe are “A Dream within a Dream”, “The Bells”, “Al-Araaf”, “The Conqueror Worm”, “To Helen”, “The Raven”, “The City in the Sea”, “Annabel Lee”,” Tamerlane”, “The Haunted Palace”, “Eldorado” and “Eulalie”.

More about Poe

Poe was awarded with a literary prize in 1843 for “The Gold Bug”, which was an exciting story of hunting for treasure and secret codes. This award was presented to him for launching a new detective genre in fiction. Poe was recognized as a literary critic, however, James Russell Lowell a prominent literary critic, criticized him as “the most discriminating, philosophical, and fearless critic upon imaginative works who has written in America” advocating that Poe did not use ink in his writings, instead he made use of Prussic acid. Though he could never get financial success during his lifetime, he is still one of the most enduring writers of America, a bright, creative thinker who crafted poems and stories that still surprise readers.

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