The Man Who Called Himself Poe

PDF-file by Sam Moskowitz

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Edited by Sam Moskowitz
Book Review

Born:January 19, 1809 Boston, Massachusetts
Died:October 7, 1849 Baltimore, Maryland
Spouse: Virginia Eliza Clemm
Mother: Elizabeth Arnold, Actress
Father: David Poe, Jr.

John and Frances Allan raised him from a youth of one year old after his father abandoned the family and his mother died in 1810. Although Sam Moskowitz writes the introduction he takes no credit for writing the book “The Man Who Called Himself Poe.” Moskowitz’s contribution was a masterful collection of Poe’s history as told by those whom knew him best. The books acknowledgement honors Madeline Haycock.

Professor Thomas Ollive Mabbott has taken on the biographical collection of Poe’s history to be submitted to Harvard for publication. However he has submitted a briefing on the masterful characteristics of Edgar Allen Poe for the reader to appreciate in this book. Mabbott is no stranger to research on personal history and has been credited with works describing the life of Walt Whitman and William Cullen Bryant.

Edgar Allen Poe was only able to finance one year at the University of Virginia in Richmond where the Allans sponsored his education. He excelled in language but took an active interest in writing. His flirtations with the school girls in poetry he wrote have not been discovered. He resigned from the University due to a lack of financing and pursued his writing career with the publication of Tamerlane. Lacking the finances to move forward on his own he enlisted in the Army under the name Edgar A. Perry.

Poe reconciled with John Allan after the pleading of Frances on her death bed. The reconciliation sent him to West Point for a short while where he continued to write and be accepted for publication in New York. Poe later went to Baltimore where he wrote short stories for publication in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier in 1832. He published again in the Baltimore Saturday Visitor and was on his way at being an accepted writer with comparisons to well established professionals in the field. He established himself as editor for the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond, Virginia. He marries Virginia Eliza Clemm when she was just thirteen with her mother’s blessing and they moved to New York.

He became the editor of Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine in 1839 until he accepted a position with Graham’s Magazine. Although he did not remain faithful to any one publisher he did exercise his writing technique into a skill vastly sought by others. Poe’s wife Virginia died in 1847 and Poe turned to Charles Dickens in Philadelphia for advice on his career. Shortly thereafter and not on account of Dickens; Poe published the Raven in the American Review after had been turned down by Graham. He had now achieved the success he had longed for and continued to write short stories and improved his popularity.

Edgar Allen Poe has been contributed with influencing the writings of Jules Verne for his fascination with astronomy and even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with Sherlock Holmes in his recital of murder mysteries investigated by Michael Avallone. He was the originator to the tales of horror which others followed and gained credibility from the style such as Alfred Hitchcock and more recently Steven King.

Poe had his critics and those who were jealous of his surprising success; but he also had a vast number of biographers who revered him as a genius. Poe suffered from a brain lesion and the stories of his drunkenness were vastly exaggerated. His medication in time became less effective as prescribed by his doctor as he himself was nursed by his friend Mrs. Clemm and Mrs. Marie Louise Shew. They consulted with Dr. Valentine Mott who advised that the lesion would cause depressive periods and manic conditions of paranoia. Despite his mental and physical condition he continued to write successfully.

The book continues to recite relationships and communications that Poe had with others that inspired biographical sketches. Edgar Allan Poe remained a mystery to many who investigated his career while others wanted to raise a statue in celebration of his genius and influence on literature as it should be enjoyed. Boris Karloff and others celebrate much of their success to the films created from Poe’s work.

Among his many pieces of literature that portray his macabre understanding to fear and reflection are: “The Black Cat, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Gold Bug, The Masque of the Red Death, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Pit and the Pendulum, and The Tell Tale Heart.” Other short stories were written and celebrated upon there publication but none set the stage for his success more than the poem “The Raven.”

Douglass Sherley provides the rendering of The Valley of Unrest” while Julian Hawthorne reveals her Adventures with Edgar Allen Poe. Vincent Starrett writes his acquaintance in Which an Author and His Characters are Well Met. Robert Bloch writes The Man Who Collected Poe and Michael Avallone pens The Man Who Thought He Was Poe. All of these works and more honor the legend that is the man.

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