Edgar Allan Poe: An Illustrated Companion to His Tell-Tale Stories

I am off preparing new material.

So, for now, you get another retro review. This one is from May 23, 2010.

Review: Edgar Allan Poe: An Illustrated Companion to His Tell-Tale Stories, Harry Lee Poe, 2008.Edgar Allan Poe

This is a good, short, sympathetic biography of Poe written by a descendent of Poe’s uncle and former president of the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia.

It isn’t as dry as Quinn’s Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography or full of silly Freudian nonsense as Silverman’s Edgar A Poe: Mournful and Neverending Remembrance. On the other hand, its brevity sacrifices an in-depth look at all but a few of his famous works and their composition. It’s a chronological look at Poe with brief asides that include the villainy of his adopted father John Allan, his time at Sullivan’s Island and West Point, his probable and “shameful” employment as a manual laborer, his one and only suit, and the circumstances surrounding the famous “Ultimata Thule” daguerreotype showing a doomed-looking Poe shortly after a suicide attempt.

The book tries hard to negate the stereotype of Poe as a crazy, morose drunk. It acknowledges his alcohol problems – whatever their cause, but it also emphasizes his humor and charm and early physical robustness. Poe’s influence on various arts and, particularly, the detective and science fiction genres is mentioned. And, of course, no biography would be complete without looking at his mysterious death and the character assassination his literary executor Griswold committed.

The separate facsimiles, in cellophane envelopes, of the marriage certificate of Poe’s parents, letters between Poe and John Allan, Poe’s army enlistment records, the bond for Poe and Virginia’s marriage, the newspaper appearance of “Manuscript Found in a Bottle”, the first printing of “The Raven”, Poe’s beautiful handwriting for the poem “A Valentine” and “For Annie”, the Ultima Thule portrait, and the writer’s obituary are not the gimmicks they first seem. They really do evoke a bit of the man and his time.

Nicely illustrated throughout , this book should appeal to any Poe fan.

 

The Poe page.

Reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.

 

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