Fiction reveals the truth that reality obscures. The 19th Century gave us some of the most exceptional writers and poets. One of them was American Writer, Poet, Editor, and Literary Critic Edgar Allan Poe. Edgar Allan Poe is a significant figure in world literature. He was one of the principal precursors of the “art for art’s sake” movement in 19th-century European literature.
Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 19, 1809. He was the second child of actors Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe and David Poe Jr. Before the age of 3; he lost both of his parents. John Allan and his wife Francis Valentine Allan in Richmond, Virginia, took Poe in. He attended the University of Virginia at Charlottesville in 1825 but dropped out within a year. In 1827, he wrote and published his first poetry collection, Tamerlane and Other Poems, while serving in the United States Army.
In 1831, he published his 3rd collection, poems in New York. Later, he went to Baltimore, where he lived with his aunt, Mrs. Maria Clemm. He lived in poverty but had published his short stories in Philadelphia Saturday Courier. One of them, MS. Found in a Bottle won a contest sponsored by the Saturday Visitor. Poe went to Richmond, where he started working at The Southern Literary Messenger as an Assistant Editor. He worked at the Messenger until January 1837, where he published several of his poems, book reviews, critiques, and stories.
Poe published his novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket in 1838. Later in the summer of 1839, Poe became assistant editor of Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine. In June 1840, he announced his intentions to start his journal but failed because of insufficient funding. In January 1845, Edgar Poe published The Raven, which brought him to the public’s attention.
Some of Edgar Allan Poe’s best-known works are:
To Helen (1831)
To Helen, written by Edgar Allan Poe, is one of his most famous poems. It was first published in 1831, in his collection, Poems of Edgar A. Poe. In this poem, the author is referring to Helen of Troy. Poe wrote this poem for Jane Stanard, the first person to encourage his writing. He later republished the edited version in 1845 in his collection The Raven and Other Poems.
The Fall of the House of Usher (1839)
In 1839 in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, the story includes madness, Goth, horror, isolation, and metaphysical identities. Apart from these, the story also possesses the element of vagueness. It is unclear where and when the story takes place.
The Tell-Tale Heart (1843)
Published in 1843, The Tell-Tale Heart is an early classic of the Gothic fiction genre. The unreliable narrator recounts murdering an old man, with an eerie exactness to prove their sanity. No pronouns are used to clarify the narrator’s gender. The narrator claims to suffer from Hypersensitivity. However, it is unclear if he is speaking the truth or is merely delusional.
The Raven (1845)
The Raven, written by Edgar Allan Poe, is a narrative poem known for its gothic theme. The poem was first published on January 29, 1845, in the New York Evening Mirror. It depicts a distraught lover’s story and a slow fall into madness witnessed by a mysterious talking raven. Although, the poem is famous for its stylized language and supernatural atmosphere.
The Cask of Amontillado (1846)
Published in November 1846, it tells the story of a man wanting to take revenge on his friend. However, the criminal himself narrates how he murdered or, in his eyes, executed his friend. According to him, his friend had wronged him, and he deemed himself responsible for correcting him.
Annabel Lee (1849)
Annabel Lee is the last poem, composed by Edgar Allan Poe in 1849. They published it not long after the author’s death in the same year. It explores the theme of a beautiful woman’s death, a theme frequent in many of his writings. The poem’s narrator tells the story of adolescent love cut short by tragedy. The narrator claims that their love is so strong that they are still together even after her death.
His Work and Influence:
Poe was most famous for his horror works with a psychological and supernatural theme to it. These stories include The Tell-Tale Heart, Berinice, and the Pit and the Pendulum. Critics consider most of his works part of the dark romanticism and transcendentalism, and the horror genre. Other than horror, Poe was also famous for writing murder mysteries, often by a first-person narrative. One common theme among Poe’s poems was the death of a beautiful woman, fear, and insanity.
He was one of the first writers in the genre of science fiction and made this genre famous. Poe found the science of his time fascinating, and he often wrote stories about new inventions. Literary critics consider Poe, the father of modern detective stories. His stories, like The Purloined Letter, inspired countless authors. The most famous among them was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes.
Poe was a known literary critic, often referred to as tomahawk man, because of his scathing reviews. He became one of the first American authors to become more popular in Europe than in the US during the 19th Century. While Edgar Poe received little recognition for his work during his lifetime, he earned due respect as a gifted fiction writer, poet, and critic.
He became quite unstable after his wife’s death from tuberculosis in 1847. Later on, Poe became involved in several romantic affairs. On October 3, 1849, people found Poe delirious on the streets of Baltimore. He died four days later, on October 7, 1849, with little explanation from him about his last few days.
While his death has been quite miserable, his work continued to inspire many more authors. However, even today, his writing holds immense relevance in the literary world with some great writing pieces.