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Any Poe Fans Here?

  1. May 22, 2012 #1
    Edgar Allan Poe is considered the father of all modern detective fiction and I see from reading more of his work that his detective fiction arose from his own interest in debunking mysteries and in unraveling misconceptions.

    Previously I supposed he had some fascination with the paranormal that could be construed as partial belief, or at least open mindedness about it, but the more I find out about him, it's looking more like he composed his tales much more cold bloodedly with a specific eye to exploiting both "the popular and the critical taste".


    You can see from that essay that writing was a very disciplined, logical procedure in his mind, aimed at satisfying "the popular and the critical taste". He was well educated in math and physics (as far as physics went in his day) and was extremely appreciative of both disciplines for their basis in logic. (He alludes to Newtonian mechanics fairly often in his stories as well as the mathematics of probability.) Effective literature emerges, he maintains, from the cold-blooded analysis, and manipulation of, literary effects. That whole essay is dedicated to that proposition because Poe liked dispelling misconceptions, dissecting hoaxes, deconstructing mysteries, including even the artistic process. He eschews any bunk about artists "discovering themselves", or clap-trap about "inner journeys".

    He was fascinated by hoaxes, mysteries, and codes. He wrote a rather long debunking of a then well known chess-playing machine:


    And his story The Mystery of Marie Roget was a debunking of popular rumors that sprang up around the actual unsolved murder of a NY shop girl.

    http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/HistoryAmerican/Early19thCentury/~~/dmlldz11c2EmY2k9OTc4MDE5NTExMzkyMQ== [Broken]

    His treasure hunting story,The Gold Bug revolves around a substitution code and was for a long time most people's introduction to the notion of a secret code, and he wrote a Valentine poem encoding the recipients name into it.

    (To decode the name of the recipient take the first letter of the first line, second letter of the second line, third letter of the third line, and so on.)

    A few of his stories are tales of murder as told by the murderer. I'd be interested in reading his step by step explanation of what he was up to with those if such exists.

    Anyway, reading him over the past year, I've changed my impression that he must have been an essentially mystical-thinking person to feeling he would probably enjoy PF.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. May 22, 2012 #2
    If you don't appreciate Edgar Allan Poe, then you don't have a soul.

    I'm personally more a fan of his short stories as opposed to his poems.
  4. May 22, 2012 #3


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    I am a Poe fan. Great author, and though some his tales were macabre, they were compelling, IMO. :tongue:
  5. May 22, 2012 #4
    I'll be honest though, his "comedies" were somewhat dreadful. They were meant to be funny in the sense that (at least from the ones that I have read) a huge amount of entirely unlikely events happen.

    Then again, you could always analyze them further and find them humorous, because I know that in at least one of them, it was Poe describing a figment of his imagination that caused his life to turn to turmoil, when he was really just drunk and passed out and overslept through an important meeting, but wanted to find something else to blame it on besides alcoholism.
  6. May 22, 2012 #5
    He did macabre best of all the genres he tried. If his essay, "The Philosophy of Composition" is to be taken at face value, his decision to go that route was part of a deliberate strategy to cater to popular taste. In other words, Like Stephen King after him, he realized that, if you don't write what people want to read, you'll languish in obscurity.

    On the other hand you have to wonder, and people do, if these stories could actually end up being so compelling if they were actually written as dispassionately as he claims.
  7. May 22, 2012 #6
    I have to agree, his 'humorous" stories are "dreadful". They are only found in "The Complete Works of..." and are wisely excluded from "Selected Stories of..." that the editors intend people to actually enjoy.

    I was pretty surprised to find out he ever tried his hand at humor and had to read some of these to see what they were about. It looks to me like he was heavily influenced by Jonathan Swift. The point of these stories is satire (he's ridiculing some class of person) and succession of preposterous events is probably meant to remind people of the outlandish situations Gulliver encountered. Poe doesn't pull it off, and what you end up with is a Shaggy Dog Story.
  8. May 27, 2012 #7
    I don't have a soul and I enjoy Poe, greatly,
  9. May 27, 2012 #8
    Error. Does not compute.
  10. May 28, 2012 #9
    I had originally intended to get a discussion going of Poe as one of the original debunkers, which he probably was, sort of the ancestor of Houdini (in his capacity as debunker of seances) and James Randi, and Derren Brown. The three I mention are all primarily magicians/performers who use their inside knowledge of illusion to debunk illusory phenomena that aren't presented as illusion.

    Since the thread's been moved, though, anything goes. Discuss any aspect of Poe that comes to mind.

    The biography I just read is called Edgar Allan Poe, His Life and Legacy, by Jeffrey Meyers. I haven't read any others to compare it to, but it seemed excellent, thoroughly researched, an easy read, well constructed.
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