Monday, November 1, 2010

Fine Fifteen Authors - Edgar Allan Poe

This one is no surprise, I suppose, and a natural for someone who loves dark fiction as much as I do. Poe is one of only two authors on my Fine Fifteen list of those who most influenced me to have been born in the 1800's, and the only one to do all of his writing more than 150 years ago.

None of that matters, though, if you appreciate the darker side of human nature as well as the ability to tell a compelling tale. Most of Poe's published work consists of poems and short stories or novellas; he published only one complete novel, THE NARRATIVE OF ARTHUR GORDON PYM OF NANTUCKET in 1838.

Poetry is not really my thing, but some of Poe's shorter works are classics. "The Cask of Amontillado," "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Masque of the Red Death," "The Pit and the Pendulum," and "The Tell-Tale Heart," among many others, thrilled and chilled me as a kid as much as anything I've ever read.

Plus, his relatively short life and the strange, still-not-completely-understood circumstances of his death at the age of 40 are the sorts of things to intrigue anyone. It has become fairly universally accepted that Poe died of the effects of alcoholism, but it's likely no one will ever know for sure, since his death certificate, as well as all his medical records, have been lost.

In his time, Edgar Allan Poe was known as a literary critic and edited a number of different literary magazines. He was fired from one for being drunk at work, but later reinstated. He married his thirteen year old cousin when he was 26, then later watched her die at an early age.

The guy definitely had some issues. But he was a master at writing the sort of fiction I love, and so he takes a place among my Fine Fifteen Authors.

No comments: