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Edgar Allan Poe. 1809 – 1849. Why do we study Poe’s writing?. He hoped to elevate American literature to world prominence. Excelled in several types of writing Tales of terror and supernatural activity Detective story (he created this style of writing) Romantic and Narrative Poetry

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edgar allan poe

Edgar Allan Poe

1809 – 1849

why do we study poe s writing
Why do we study Poe’s writing?
  • He hoped to elevate American literature to world prominence.
  • Excelled in several types of writing
    • Tales of terror and supernatural activity
    • Detective story (he created this style of writing)
    • Romantic and Narrative Poetry
    • Burlesques (parody/mockery or imitation)
    • Hoaxes
    • Literary Criticism
poe remembered
Poe Remembered
  • Poe made few friends and many enemies due to being quarrelsome, temperamental, an alcoholic, and unreliable.
  • The facts of his life are difficult to determine due to the lurid legends that circulated about him even before his death. Some of the legends were spread by Poe himself.
rufus griswold
Rufus Griswold
  • A prominent anthologizer of American literature.
  • Poe entrusted Griswold with his literary papers.
  • However, two days after Poe’s death Griswold began “a campaign of character assassination.”
  • He wrote a vicious obituary and rewrote much of Poe’s correspondence to alienate the public and his friends.
  • Griswold’s attack shaped Poe’s reputation for decades.
the truth revealed early life
The Truth Revealed: Early Life
  • Born in Boston on January 19, 1809 to Elizabeth Arnold Poe (a prominent actress) and David Poe.
  • Poe was the second of three children.
  • His father deserted his family in 1810.
  • Elizabeth Poe died in December 1811 at age 24 while performing in Richmond, Virginia. Evidence suggests that David Poe died soon after at age 27.
the truth revealed adulthood
The Truth Revealed: Adulthood
  • The Poe children were cared for by different foster families after the death of their mother. Edgar was placed with John and Francis Allan.
  • Poe studied at the University of Virginia in 1826.
  • Poe was a good student and wrote poetry.
  • He received very little support from the Allan’s and eventually ran up debts, began to drink, and began gambling to try to pay his debts.
  • His gambling forced him to leave university.
the truth revealed adulthood1
The Truth Revealed: Adulthood
  • Published Tamerlane and Other Poems in 1827 under the name “Edgar A. Perry” to avoid creditors.
  • Francis Allan died in 1829 and John Allan and Poe briefly reconcile.
  • Poe joined the military and was admitted to West Point in June 1830.
  • John Allan’s remarriage and the birth of a son eliminated Poe’s hopes of being Allan’s heir; his disillusionment began the downward spiral that would get him expelled from West Point.
the truth revealed virginia clemm
The Truth Revealed: Virginia Clemm
  • Poe, sober and impoverished, lived with his aunt Maria Poe Clemm and her daughter, Virginia between the years 1831 – 1835.
  • Poe made great progress as a writer and publisher; however, his drinking ended his career with the Southern Literary Messenger.
  • Poe secretly married Virginia Clemm and were publicly wed in May of 1836.
  • The Clemm’s loyalty to Poe was probably the only stable element in his tempestuous life.
the truth revealed virginia clemm1
The Truth Revealed: Virginia Clemm
  • In January 1842, Virginia Poe, not yet twenty, began hemorrhaging from her lungs while singing.
  • She lived as a tubercular invalid only five more years.
poe s most popular work the raven
Poe’s Most Popular Work: “The Raven”
  • “The Raven” appeared in the February American Review in 1845.
  • 1845 – Poe’s most successful year.
poe s death
Poe’s Death
  • Poe was found senseless near a polling place on Election Day (October 3) and was taken to a hospital.
  • Poe died on October 7, 1849 of congestion of the brain.
  • His poem “Annabel Lee” was published posthumously later that year.
poe s influence
Poe’s Influence
  • Poe thought poetry should appeal only to the sense of beauty.
  • Believed that poems and tales should be short enough to be read in one sitting; otherwise the unity of effect would be dissipated.
  • Greatly influenced modernist writers T.S. Eliot and William Faulkner.