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Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 290 pages
8 Reviews

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was an American original-a luminous literary theorist, an erratic genius, and an analyst par excellence of human obsession and compulsion. The scope of his literary achievements and the dramatic character of Poe's life have drawn readers and critics to him in droves.

And yet, upon his death, one obituary penned by a literary enemy in the New York Daily Tribune cascaded into a lasting stain on Poe's character, leaving a historic misunderstanding. Many remember Poe as a difficult, self-pitying, troubled drunkard often incapable of caring for himself.

Poe reclaims the Baltimore and Virginia writer's reputation and power, retracing Poe's life and career. Biographer and critic James M. Hutchisson captures the boisterous worlds of literary New York and Philadelphia in the 1800s to understand why Poe wrote the way he did and why his achievement was so important to American literature. The biography presents a critical overview of Poe's major works and his main themes, techniques, and imaginative preoccupations.

This portrait of the writer emphasizes Poe's southern identity; his existence as a workaday journalist in the burgeoning magazine era; his authority as a literary critic and cultural arbiter; his courtly demeanor and sense of social propriety; his advocacy of women writers; his adaptation of art forms as diverse as the so-called "gutter press" and the haunting rhythms of African American spirituals; his borrowing of imagery from such popular social movements as temperance and freemasonry; and his far-reaching, posthumous influence.

James M. Hutchisson, Charleston, South Carolina, is a professor of American literature and southern studies at The Citadel.


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Review: Poe

User Review  - Sharlene - Goodreads

Anything written by Poe was our book club selection for October. Having read a number of Edgar A. Poe's works, I decided on reading this biography. I really liked how this book aligned what was going on with his real life to what he was writing at the time. Some interesting overlap. Read full review

Review: Poe

User Review  - Kara Hall - Goodreads

The author's lack of dramatic flourishes stands in stark contrast to the subject matter. I would have preferred something in between. All in all, interesting, informative, and thankfully not speculative. Read full review


Childhood Boston Richmond England 18091825
The Byronic Youth University the Army and West Point 18261830
Baltimore Early Tales and Satires 18311834
Return to Richmond Marriage the Southern Literary Messenger and The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym 18351837
Philadelphia Burtons Gentlemans Magazine and the Great Tales 18381840
Grahams Magazine The Penn and the Red Death 18411843
New York Triumphs and TroublesThe Raven and the Longfellow War 18441845
Quarrels Loves and Losses 18461848
The Journey and the Lighthouse 1849

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About the author (2005)

James M. Hutchisson is Associate Professor of English at The Citadel.

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