Poe

Poe

A Life Cut Short

Book - 2008
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Edgar Allan Poe served as a soldier and began his literary career composing verses modelled on Byron; soon he was trying out his 'prose-tales' - often horror melodramas such as The Fall of the House of Usher. As editor of the Literary Messenger he was influential among critics and writers of the American South. His versatile writings - including, for example, The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Raven - continue to resonate down the centuries.

Peter Ackroyd's biography of Poe opens with his end, his final days - no one knows what happened between the time when friends saw him off on the steam-boat to Baltimore and his discovery six days later dying in a tavern. This mystery sets the scene for a short life packed with drama and tragedy (drink and poverty) combined with extraordinary brilliance.

Poe has been claimed as the forerunner of modern fantasy, and credited with the invention of psychological dramas (long before Freud), science fiction (before H.G. Wells and Jules Verne) and the detective story (before Arthur Conan Doyle). Tennyson described him as 'the most original genius that America has produced'. He influenced European romanticism and was the harbinger of both Symbolism and Surrealism. Peter Ackroyd, who places significance on Poe's childhood (his travelling actor parents were miserably poor, his mother had TB and he was orphaned), claims that Poe found his family among writers - writers not only of his time but of the future generations who were influenced by the power of his imagination.

Publisher: London : Chatto & Windus, 2008.
ISBN: 9780701169886
0701169885
Branch Call Number: 813 POE ACK
Characteristics: 170 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 23 cm

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MelatSCPL
Jan 16, 2017

Either Poe fans have amassed a huge amount of information about their hero or Peter Ackroyd is a clever detective as well as a fine biographer. His 160 pages are chock-a-bloc with quotations from Poe’s correspondence and notes. This is a book well worth reading.
I don’t believe in curses, but sometimes I have to wonder: the Kennedys? Edgar Allan Poe? Did the man suffer from bipolar disorder? He was symptomatic. When manic, sufferers display an abnormally irritable mood; periods of high self-esteem; flight of ideas and distractibility; unrealistic goals or activities; agitation such as pacing, hand wringing; and an increased pursuit of dangerous activities. When depressed people with bipolar disorder lose weight, have trouble sleeping and show increased psychomotor activity. They experience decreased energy; feelings of worthlessness or guilt; trouble thinking, concentrating, and/or making decisions; and have thoughts of death; contemplate suicide and/or attempt it. Left untreated, people with bipolar disorder often self-medicate with drugs and alcohol and at times, hallucinate and become overtly paranoid. I wonder.
Edgar Allan Poe—a genius writer, but what a poor soul!

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Xambro7
Aug 08, 2016

Excellent rundown on the life of a tragic figure. Not too heavy on the literary interpretation or analysis of the poetry...don't expect that. The author's sarcasm is sometimes hilarious!

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