Today marks the one hundred and sixty first anniversary of the death of Edgar Allan Poe (January 19th, 1809 – October 7th, 1849). Poe is perhaps best remembered for his poem “The Raven,” but also published such important short stories as “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Cask of Amontillado.” He’s also probably the most famous person to live in Baltimore probably ever, and is likely remembered as just being downright creepy.
The events surrounding Poe’s death remain shrouded in mystery. On October 3rd, Poe was found in the streets of Baltimore in a state of delirium, while wearing clothes that were not his own and yelling out the name, “Reynolds.” He never remained coherent enough to explain how he came to be in his condition. After his death, all medical records including his death certificate were lost, and historians continue to debate the exact cause of death.
The memory which stands out to me the most about Edgar Allan Poe is a trip my eighth grade class took to somewhere to see a performance of “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Although I don’t believe this happens in that story, I distinctly remember the actor ripping out his own eye and holding it above his head.
From that point on, I had this perception of Poe as being tremendously weird and kind of dismissed him and his work as a whole. But I must say, dear reader, that I have been unfair to Mr. Poe. He is actually a fantastic writer despite my preconceived notions of him.
I think that we all have a writer like that–someone whose work we’ve read and had a negative reaction to, and avoided their work like the plague. Oftentimes, I believe these reactions can be attributed to the time and place surrounding when we’ve read those pieces, and if we were to revisit them, we would find that our notions about the author were false.
So, dear reader, today I ask you to pick up a book by an author whose work you think you don’t like and give it another shot. Come on, do it for Edgar. How can you resist that face?
Prose Committee Chair