Edgar Allan Poe was a literally critic, a poet, a fiction writer and essay writer, and is considered to be the inventor of detective writing and science fiction.
Poe had a troubled life. His life was full of tragic events, which started with his mother's death when he was only two years old, and just after the father abandoned them. Then he suffered the loss of his only brother, foster mother and later his wife and cousin Virginia Clemm Poe.Edgar Allan Poe was born on 19th January 1809 in Boston Massachusetts. He was the son of actor parents, Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins (1787-1811) and David Poe.
He had two siblings, a sister Rosalie (1811-1874), who later became insane and a brother, William Henry (1807-1837), who died at a young age. His mother died while he was very young before he was three years old. The father died a few days after his mother.After his mother's death he was fostered by Frances and John Allan, a merchant couple from Richmond, Virginia, though they never formally adopted him, but took up their name as his middle name Allan. The brother William was left with his grandparents and Rosalie was taken in by a couple in Richmond.
Poe traveled with his foster parents to England (1815-1820). His foster mother died in 1829 another tragedy to hit the young Poe. Poe arrived a day after the funeral.His foster father John Allan and Poe never got along so well and he was later to be disowned because of his problem with gambling.
Her foster mother's death wish was for the two to reconcile. They tried to honor her will but this did not last long. They went separate ways and John Allan later disowned Poe.Though the house that they lived is not standing, the oldest house in Richmond, the Old Stone House is used as Edgar Allan Poe Museum and is host to Poe's rare and first printings.In 1826 Poe was engaged to Elmira Royster but the engagement was broken by her parents because of his drinking and gambling problems. They were to engage again in 1849, after his wife Virginia's death.
Elmira had married Alexander B. Shelton who had by then left her a widow.In 1831 Poe moved to stay with his Aunt Mrs. Maria Clemm in Baltimore, where his brother William and his cousin Virginia were also staying. William died immediately Poe moved in with the Clemms.
The home that they lived in at this time is preserved as Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum and also serves as the centre for Edgar Poe Society.Poe married his cousin Virginia Clemm in 1836, who at the time was 13 years old, and they moved to New York City. At a time in their married life they lived in Philadelphia together with his mother-in-law. The house they had rented and stayed in Philadelphia is the only existing house in which Poe rented or lived in. The house is preserved by National Park House as Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site.Virginia fell sick and suffered from tuberculosis in 1842 from which she never recovered.
She remained an invalid until she died in 1847. Poe addressed his famous poem "Annabel Lee' 1849 to Virginia. This was Poe's favorite poem. The poem is about the death of a beautiful woman who marries young. It talks about a very strong love.In one of his famous love poems Annabel Lee by Edgar provides a clear perspective which is indentified by most people.
The love poem is addressed to his lover Annabel Lee in which he states that when he was a child she was a child as well. He further stated that they are both coveted by winged seraphs of heaven. He emphasized that in the kingdom which they lived by the sea was the reason that wind would blow out of the cloud to chill his lover Annabel Lee to ensure his kinsmen in the kingdom would come to shut her up in sepulcher (Annabel Lee, 1849).The most dramatic part of the love poem is when he wrote that even angels in heaven envied both of them.
Such that at one night a wind blew out of the cloud by night to killed his lover by chilling her. Edgar was convinced that their love was stronger as compared to any other love which had been practiced there before by those who lived before them. Neither even demons which live under sea nor angels that are in heaven above would ever have separated their loving soul of the beautiful Annabel Lee. He further stated that "The moon never beans without bringing him dreams of the beautiful Annabel Lee" (Kirjasto, 2009).
He wrote that stars also never rise and he fills the bright eyes of the beautiful eyes of his lover. At night he lied down by the side of his lover whom he said was his darling, bride and friend who lied in the tomb which surrounded the sea.After his wife's death Poe's dependency on drugs and alcohol worsened. He had a series of Romances including with the poet Sarah Helen Whitman and again with Elmira Roster.
Sarah Helen Whitman said this of Poe, "His proud reserve, his profound melancholy, his unworldliness may we not his unearthiness of nature, made his character one very difficult of comprehension to the casual observer" (Edgar Allan Poe, 269)Poe suffered from recurring depression and even attempted suicide in 1848.Poe's literally talent was inborn and at the age of five he started reciting passages. A teacher said this about him, "While other boys wrote mere mechanical verses, Poe wrote genuine poetry, the boy is a born poet." Poe attended Manor School at Stoke Newington in England where he had moved to, with his foster parents.
He went back to Richmond where he joined the University of Virginia in 1826. At the University he learnt Latin and poetry. He was expelled because of his gambling problem. The gambling habit caused him disagreements with John Allan, who refused to pay his gambling debts. The room he used while at the University is preserved and managed by The Raven Society and visitors are allowed in.
Poe started his writing career as an editor and contributor with several magazines, Southern Literacy Messenger in Richmond (1835-37), Burtons Gentleman (1839-40) and Graham's magazine (1842-43). At a point he was sacked from Southern Literacy Messenger due to his drinking problem.He started his writing while at the University though most of this literally work is not known. He had a collection of poems, his first well known "Tamerlane and other poems" was published in1827. There are very few copies of this book that have survived; a copy was sold in 2009 for a record high of $662, 500.Poe enlisted with the U.
S. Army in 1827 as a common soldier under a fake name Edgar A Perry and he also lied that he was 22 years old while he was only 18 then. He was taken to Sullivan Island, South Carolina, and later at West Point (Edgar Allan Poe, 2009). It was during this time in the army that he published his first collection 'Tamerlane and other poems' at his own expense. It sold poorly. He tried to end his enlistment before the five year term, by intentionally ignoring his duties.
He was discharged after serving for two years and getting a replacement.In 1833 Poe's won a price of $50 for his short story "MS found in a Bottle". His Novel "Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym", which is said to be his longest tale and his only complete novel, was published in 1838. The Novel a fiction tale starts as an adventure about Arthur Gordon Pym, a young ship stowaway, whom together with a sailor Dick are in a ship called 'Grampus'. As they sail south they meet with black strange humans. The novel ends as a chilling story of mutiny, murder and cannibalism where they are saved by the crew of a ship called 'Jane Guy'.
The novel ends abruptly and is heavily criticized by none other than Poe himself who called it "a very silly book". Because of his reference to strange black humans it is perceived that Poe was referring to black people and it this has been used as Poe's opinion on racism.Poe's contributions to magazines were published as a collection in Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840) and this was his first collection, and which was released in two volumes. The collection included, "The Duc de L Omelette, Bon Bon and King Pest and one of his most famous work "The Fall of the House of Usher' which has severally been adapted into films, "The Fall of the House of Usher (1928, French film) by Jean Epstein and "The Fall of the House of Usher (opera) 1999 by Peter Hammil and Chris Judge Smith.
Which he stated that "Affairs being thus miserably situated, I left the place in disgust, and now appeal for aid to all lovers of correct time and fine kraut" (Grimly and Edgar Allan Poe's, 75). It talks about the Richard Usher's house. Richard Usher is a friend of the narrator who arrives at Ushers house to find Usher is ill. The Narrator tries to cheer up Usher by admiring the beautiful art he finds in Ushers house and he also sings for him.
Ushers twin sister Madeleine is dead though Usher does not believe so. Later there is a storm and the house crumbles. "While I gazed, this fissure rapidly widened - there came a fierce breath of the whirlwind- the entire orb of the satellite burst at once upon my sight- my brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder- there was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters- and the deep and dark tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the 'House of Usher'." The fall of the House of Usher (1839) (Edgar Allan Poe, 121).Other film adaptations include The Tell-Tale-Heart, Black Cat and RavenPoe's best selling work in the 1840s was the Conchologists First Book which was published in 1839.
His collection of poetry "The Raven and other poems" included "Helen" and "The Raven" (1845), the poem that gained him attention, both locally and abroad, though it didn't bring him financial success. The theme of the poem is devotion of a lover lamenting about his lost love.But the raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke onlyThat one word, as if its soul in that one word he did outpourNothing farther then he uttered; not a feather then he fluttered-Till I scarcely more than muttered: "Other friends have flown before-On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before."Then the bird said "Nevermore."Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful DisasterFollowed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden boreOf 'never-nevermore" (Edgar Allen Poe, 2009)While in New York he released a third volume of poems which he simply titled Poems.Poe wrote several essays.
The philosophy of composition where he describes his method in writing "Raven", though this has been criticized especially by .T. S Elliot and Biographer Joseph Wood Krutch who described the essay, 'a rather highly ingenious exercise in the art of rationalization'. In this essay Poe depicts that writing should be short and to the point and should not tire the reader."If any literary work is too long to read at one sitting, we must be content to dispense with the immensely important effect derivable from unity of impression - for, if two sittings be required, the affairs of the world interfere, and every thing like totality is at once destroyed (Edgar Allan Poe, 2010)"Another of his essays: Eureka a Prose poem written in 1848 was adapted for a lecture and is non fiction, it has a cosmological theory that presaged the big bang theory by 80 years and has scientific errors.
He considered this work to be his career master piece.The poetic principle is another essay on literary criticism. It was written towards his death. It was published posthumously in 1850. It is based on lectures that he gave towards the end of his life.
According to the essay a poem should be written for a poem's sake and the goal should be in its beauty. The essay goes against long poems and in this essay Poe is against didacticism and actually disliked it and believed that a good poem should be simple and short.Poe was still writing The Light House (unofficial title) and it was incomplete by the time he died. This is the last fiction tale that he wrote before his death.His genre was gothic fiction which combines romance and horror.
He introduced science fiction. Some of his writings are humorous e.g. "The Devil in Belfry and "Never Bet the Devil your Head" though he uses ironical humor. Which stated;"That it is wrong to alter the good old course of things,That there is nothing tolerable out of Vondervotteimittiss:" and-That we will stick by our clocks and our cabbages" (Gerald and Edgar Allan Poe, 64)Poe died in Washington College Hospital Baltimore Maryland on 7th October 1849. It is not clearly known what caused his death.
Some say he was murdered while others say he died of various illnesses among them brain congestion or cerebral inflammation with some even suggesting suicide. He was buried in Westminster Prebestrian burial yard in an unmarked grave. His funeral was un-ceremonial with only two of his relatives, Neilson Poe, Henry Herring, his colleague Dr. Joseph Snodgrass and his former classmate, Z. Collins Lee. His last home in New York is also preserved as Edgar Allan Poe Cottage in New York.
Poe became more popular in Europe mostly France through translations of his work by Charles Baudelaire than he was in US. Charles Baudelaire said this of him, "In Edgar Poe, there is no tiresome sniveling; but everywhere and at all times an indefatigable enthusiasm in seeking the ideal".Poe's writing influenced many authors. In "The Doctor Stories", Dr. Richard Selzer, an author and surgeon, included his short story 'Poe's Light-house which was inspired from "The Light House'.
In her collection Wild Nights (2008), The Light House was also used by Joyce Carol Oates as an inspiration for the story 'Poe Posthumous, or the Light-House'.Poe's influence can be seen in modern writers, like Junichiro Tanizaki (1886-1965), a famous Japanese author's early stories and Kobo Abe's (1924-1993) novels, Jorge Luis Borges detective novels and also in Robert Louis Borges detective novels.Among his worst critiques at his time was Rufus Wilmot Griswold. Rufus was an editor and a critique, and he and Poe always regarded each other with professional suspicion.
Rufus published an account of Poe's life which appeared as "Memoir of the Author" (1850). The Memoir was published in four volumes, the last one in 1850. The details in this memoir were manipulations and some were inventions by Rufus. In his attempt of character assassination on Poe, Rufus forged some letters which he used as proof of Poe's character.
Unfortunately for Poe and his friends, Rufus biography was the only existing one until 1875 and this created a very negative character for Poe. However in 1875, an Englishman John Henry Ingram with the help of Sarah Helen Whitman wrote a new memoir in defense of Poe's work and character. The memoir which was published at the same time with the unveiling of a monument of Poe received a lot of attention and helped to undo some of the damage caused by Rufus and others. John Henry Ingram published Poe's full length biography in 1885, "Edgar Allan Poe: His Life, Letters and Opinions'.
In 1865 a movement led by Miss Sara Sigourney Rice decided to raise funds to make a decent monument for Poe. Half of this had been raised by 1871 and the balance was donated by George W. Childs. A new monument was designed and was dedicated on November 17 1875. The remains of his wife were also moved to Baltimore. Maria Clemms remains are also buried here.
Since 1949 a mysterious stranger visits the monument every 19th of January, Poe's birthday, and leaves a bottle of cognac and three roses. The Poe Toaster (as the toaster is affectionately called) did not appear on January 2010.