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Edgar Allan Poe

(1809-1849)

American Author
The greatest of American poets, the master of the horror tale, the patron of the detective story

It is almost impossible to shell such a rich, extraordinary and unusual personality as the one of Edgar Allan Poe.

Considered by many as America's greatest writer nowadays, he wasn't much appreciated in his own country at a time when, abroad, he had myriads of fervent and notorious admirators, like the famous poet Baudelaire who made a remarkable translation of his works into French. Jules Verne, Stephane Mallarme and Paul Valery, were also ranking amongst his strong supporters.

Eventually, in America, his fame was founded by French-influenced writers like Ambroce Bierce or Robert W. Chambers, together with writers of the Lovecraft school.

Who would imagine that a character such as Poe would enrol himself in the U.S. Army? Surprisingly, he was a fine enlisted man and non-commissioned officer, until he entered West Point in 1830 and was dismissed one year later for intentional neglect of his duties. After he had left, he published his Poems to which 131 of the 232 cadets at the Academy subscribed.

Considered by the public as a master of cryptograms ? Cryptology was almost nonexistant in the general public during Poe's lifetime, and Poe, in a manner of sleight of hand, was actually distracting his readers from the simplicity of his methods of solution.

What does this prove in fact ? Simply, that Poe's writings were magic, and that Poe was himself a magician.

In the eyes of America's public opinion of his time, Poe's life was shrouded in controversies, scandals, and ambiguities.

Orphan of modest itinerant actors, he was adopted by John Allan, a rich merchant of Richmond and brought up partly in England.

Never legally adopted, he took Allan's name for his middle name.

(After he had been expelled from the University of Virginia for not paying his gambling debts, John Allan disowned him).

His love life was a subject of slanders, between his marriage to his 13 years old cousin Virginia Clemm - he was then 27 - and his frequent platonic romances with renowned women, such as Sarah Helen Whitman, Annie Richmond, Mrs. Ellet, and also Mrs. Shew who broke off in 1848 after friends had persuaded her that further association with Poe would be detrimental to her spiritual welfare.

Even Poe's medical health fell under scrutiny when the public speculated that his physical woes were originated by alcohol abuse and drug addiction. In 1849, in Philadelphia, he was arrested and taken to prison after heavy drinkings. Like Thoreau, he didn't stay imprisoned very long, after John Sartain, the owner of Sartain's Union Magazine, rescued him, taking him to his own house for recovery.

Controversy followed him until his death, burial, and grave: is Edgar Allan Poe buried beneath his monument at Westminster's graveyard, or beside his grandfather, General Poe ?


The comparison between Poe and Lovecraft, two legendary figures of horror fiction genre, is an inevitable, everlasting and controversial subject.

An interesting study was made by Robert Bloch in Ambosia, Aug. 1973.

His conclusion is remarkable: " For the final similarity is this -- Poe and Lovecraft are our two American geniuses of fantasy, comparable each to the other, but incomparably superior to all the rest who follow in their wake."

portrait of Poe  
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American Authors:  Adams Cather Chopin Cooper Crane
 Faulkner Gilman Ginzberg Hawthorne Irving
 Lewis London Lovecraft Marquis Melville
 Morris Poe Scott Fitzgerald Stowe Thoreau
 Twain Veblen Water West Wharton

Other Authors of Poetry genre:
Khayam Meredith Milton Tagore

Other Authors of Strange-Extraordinary-Horror genre:
Doyle Leroux Lovecraft Maeterlinck
Shelley Stoker

Poe was one of the most prolific literary journalists

The subtle art of Poe:

In Graham's, Poe published a cryptogram that he challenged all his readers to solve against the promise of a year's subscription to the magazine

Neglecting the difficulty of the cipher, the public's attention was drawn principally by the apparent meaning of the text, qualified as "outrageous":

"In one of those peripatetic circumrotations obviated a rustic whom I subjected to catachetical interrogation respecting the nosocomical characteristic of the edifice to which I was approximate. With a volubility uncongealed by the frigorific powers of villatic bashfulness, he ejaculated a voluminous replication from the universal tenor of whose contents I deduce the subsequent amalgatmation of heraogeneous facts. Without dubiety incipient pretension is apt to terminate in final vulgarity, as parturient mountains have been fabulated to produce muscupular aboritions. The institution the subject of my remarks, has not been without cause the theme of the ephemeral columns of quatidian journalism, and enthusiastic encomiations in conversational inercourse."

Few understood here that Poe had come exactly to the point he wanted to reach...

Poe's last words were:

"And rays of truth you cannot see

Are flashing thro' eternity. "

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe