Monday, October 3, 2011

On the Anniversary of Poe's Death, October 7, 2011

Edgar Allan Poe (19 January 1809 - 7 October, 1849) was an American author, poet, editor and critic. Best know for his Gothic and horror stories and poems, Poe championed the short story as a literary form, contributed to the growing science fiction genre emerging in his day, and is the inventor of the modern "detective story" as we now know it. 

Poe lived a brief life of continued financial hardship sparked by flares of creative and critical success. Born in Boston to David and Elizabeth Poe, working actors, his father's disappearance and mother's premature death forced him into a pseudo-adoption by John Allan of Virginia, where he grew to consider himself a "Southern Gentleman" for the remainder of his life. 

As a student at West Point, poetry captured his fervent imagination, and he became a writer, winning his first monetary prize for his writing in Baltimore, Maryland. Shuttling between Richmond, Philadelphia and New York through-out his turbulent life, jumping between newspaper and magazine editorial jobs while gaining notoriety for his Gothic short stories, Baltimore became more of a home for him than other cities. His paternal grandfather and brother lived in Baltimore, and it was in Baltimore that he lived for many years with his Aunt, Maria Clemm, whom he considered more than anything else to be his "mother", and his child-bride, Virginia. It is in Baltimore that he died under mysterious circumstances in the autumn of 1849, and it is in Baltimore where he his buried, along-side Clemm and Virginia Poe.

Order Mark Redfield in The Death of Poe HERE

1 comment:

  1. I come late to this most interesting article...please forgive. One thing that I did for myself, being a long-time E.A. Poe admirer, was to purchase "The Death of Poe" for Christmas 2012. The DVD compilation, consisting of three discs was an excellent choice. An audio disc of the authors' poems and stories, narrated in the most pleasing of voices, that of Mr. Redfield's, is an absolute treasure: I find it soothing to listen to as I navigate the torturous freeways of The Bayou City. On the other disc, I found myself as intrigued with the many extras--including two silent films, with enlightening and entertaining commentaries--as I was with the brilliant story (the performance video disc) of several factors which may have led to the premature demise of the great writer. Of these, I found the "cooping" theory to be the most plausible. There is even a suggestion that Mr. Poe may have suffered some injury to his head, either through natural disease or, by physical trauma--I base this on the countless times in which the poor man is depicted either forgetting basic transactions with others, or is altogether collapsed. In none of these instances is Mr. Poe found to be inebriated or, otherwise, incapacitated. Interlaced within the remarkable performances by all are the words of Poe and those who knew him; the scenes whereby Poe tells his aunt how well-accepted he has found himself on his lecture tour, and the reading of the letter by his dear "Muddy" to one present with Poe during his final hours are heart-wrenching. What I appreciated most was the sincere portrayal of a man who tried so valiantly to support himself through his own literary talents at a time when copyright laws were non-existent. His determination to elevate American literature through his prospective magazine, "The Stylus", only to be thwarted in his pursuit of subscribers at every turn, is sympathetically revealed. Mr. Poe is shown for the scholarly gentleman that he was and not the raving, alcoholic /opiated maniac of Rufus Griswold's (and contemporaries) malicious invention. The doomed author's attempts to have others listen to him--his pleas for help which went either unheard or dismissed-- in the moments after his being found on the street, are particularly sad and disturbing. Never has his predicament been so eloquently told through his own eyes. The manner in which it was filmed allows us to see and feel what he must have undergone. For this more respectful interpretation of Mr. Poe's final days, I thank you, Mr. Redfield, and your amazing company of actors and crafts-persons.