Student Companion to Edgar Allan Poe

Student Companion to Edgar Allan Poe

Student Companion to Edgar Allan Poe

Student Companion to Edgar Allan Poe

Synopsis

The contributions of Edgar Allan Poe have withstood the test of time; his best poems and fiction are more popular and carry greater significance now than they did during his own era. This highly readable introduction to the life, times, and major works of Poe offers fresh interpretations of timeless masterpieces like "The Raven" and "The Purloined Letter." Students, general readers, and fans of all things Gothic will enjoy the fascinating insights this volume offers.

Excerpt

The Student Companion to Edgar Allan Poe is meant to be used as an introduction to the life, times, and major work of one of America’s greatest authors. The contributions of a great author must withstand the test of time, enduring the social, political, or religious context in which his or her canon emerges, as well as the various critical interpretations that are later applied to explain what the literature means. Poe’s work has definitely withstood these tests. His best poems and fiction are more popular and carry greater significance now, a century and a half after they were first composed, than they did during his own era. Writing about his own personal demons and highly individualized aesthetics may have made Poe the quintessential Romantic, but his insight into human nature and its infinite capacity for evil suggest that of all the American writers from the nineteenth century, Poe was perhaps closest to understanding the spirit of the century that would follow. In his best work, Poe was all the time conscious of loss, disintegration, darkness, and things ending, just as we are. Poe died totally unaware of how important he would become to subsequent generations of writers, readers, and even artists employing mediums far removed from literature.

The power of truly great literature transcends its creator, and sometimes even the intention the creator had in mind for it. Since Poe’s death, his art has attracted interpretations and appreciation from the most unlikely readership. For example, his poetry (“The Raven” and “The Bells” are specific favorites) is memorized by Russian school children, while in Japan, Poe was a major inspi-

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