From a Pulitzer-Prize winning biographer, the most revealing, fascinating, and important biography of one of our greatest literary figures.
Renowned as the creator of the detective story and a master of horror, the author of "The Red Mask of Death," "The Black Cat," and "The Murders of the Rue Morgue," Edgar Allan Poe seems to have derived his success from suffering and to have suffered from his success. "The Raven" and "The Tell-Tale Heart" have been read as signs of his personal obsessions, and "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Descent into the Maelstrom" as symptoms of his own mental collapse. Biographers have seldom resisted the opportunities to confuse the pathologies in the stories with the events in Poe's life. Against this tide of fancy, guesses, and amateur psychologizing, Arthur Hobson Quinn's biography devotes itself meticulously to facts. Based on exhaustive research in the Poe family archive, Quinn extracts the life from the legend, and describes how they both were distorted by prior biographies.
The Johns Hopkins University Press
Controversies abound in studies of Edgar Allan Poe. From the time of his death well into the twentieth century, partisans debated the issue of his character: was he an alcoholic? drug addict? pathological liar? necrophile? In the 1920s and 30s, psychoanalytic critics sought to divorce the study of Poe from Victorian moral concerns but in the process made scandalous claims by linking Poe's dream-like stories to his personality. The status of Poe's literary productions was similarly disputed; dismissed by the New Critics but championed by poets such as William Carlos Williams and Allen Tate. Recent scholars have debated the meaning and significance of Poe's representations of race, class, and gender, often returning to the character issue: how racist and misogynist was he, and how important are those questions to understanding his work? Finally, how have the seemingly countless plays, films, novels, comic books, and pop music experiments based on his image and works intertwined with academic study of Poe? This book examines these and other controversies, shedding light on broader issues of canon formation, the role of biography in literary study, and the importance of integrating various, even conflicting interpretations into one's own reading of a literary work. This book will be of great interest to Poe scholars, both those who have been a part of the literary battles described above and newcomers to the field who can use the book as a guide to the field of Poe studies, and to all those interested in Poe and his work. Scott Peeples is associate professor of English at the College of Charleston.
This biography of Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), a giant of American literature who invented both the horror and detective genres, is a portrait of extremes: a disinherited heir, a brilliant but exploited author and editor, a man who veered radically from temperance to rampant debauchery, and an agnostic who sought a return to religion at the end of his life. Acclaimed biographer Jeffrey Meyers explores the writer's turbulent life and career, including his marriage and multiple, simultaneous romances, his literary feuds, and his death at an early age under bizarre and troubling circumstances.