Edgar Allan Poe (2004)
Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston on January 19th, 1809, to David and Elizabeth Poe, travelling actors. When Edgar was one year old, his father disappeared: when he was two, his mother died. He was taken into the household (though never legally adopted) of John Allan, a wealthy Richmond (Virginia) tobacco merchant.
Poe for some time led the life of a youth of social standing. In February 1826 Poe entered the newly University of Virginia, where he displayed high promise. In December 1826 Allan withdrew him from the University for drinking and gambling debts. After a quarrel, Poe left Allan's house and went to Boston.
Lacking any means of support, Poe enlisted in the army. He had, however, already written and printed (at his own expense) his first book Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), verses written in the manner of Byron. Poe resigned from the army in 1829, the year of Mrs. Allan's death, and published Al Araaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems in Baltimore.
In 1830 he entered West Point with the support of Allan, with whom after Mrs Allan's death, he had temporarily reconciled . Not finding what he wished at West Point, he deliberately got himself dismissed for neglect of duty in 1831.
Next Poe took up residence in Baltimore with his widowed aunt, Maria Clemm, and her daughter, Virginia, and turned to fiction as a way to support himself. In 1832 the Philadelphia Saturday Courier published five of his stories, all comic or satiric, and in 1833, MS Found in a bottle.
Poe, his aunt, and Virginia moved to Richmond in 1835, and he became editor of the Southern Literary Messenger and in 1836 married Virginia, who was not yet 14 years old.
As editor from 1835 to 1837, Poe began to write the biting attacks on second-rate literature that were to gain for him a wide reputation, but no money, as the leading journalist of his day.
He resigned from the Messanger because of insufficient pay and quarrels with the publishers. Poe moved to New York and then, in 1838, to Philadelphia, where he sought to establish himself as a force in literary journalism, but with only moderate success. There he published The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym(1838), Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840).
His theory of short fiction is best exemplified in Ligeia (1838), the tale that Poe considered his finest one, and The fall of the house of Usher (1839), which was to become one of his most famous stories. The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) is sometimes considered the first detective story.
He moved back to New York in 1844, there he worked on the New York Evening Mirror. His pitifully small wages rendered him incapable of helping Virginia in her losing battle with tuberculosis. He had the chance to publish his own magazine, The Brodway journal, in 1845, but in two years it failed.
When Virginia died in 1846, Poe went to pieces, entering a delirium of drink and delusive searches of female love and understanding. He did not even succeed in his suicide attempt of 1848.
In the summer of 1849 he revisited Richmond, where he lectured, and was accepted anew by the fiancée he had lost in 1826.
On October 1849, on his return from Richmond, he died rather mysteriously.
Poe left a distinctive body of verse which is not to be read intellectually, but for sound and suggestiveness. Poe's prose falls into several classes: analytical tales, tales of mystery and horror, of wonderful adventures, of fantasy and tales of humour.
Annate: 2004 (3)