On Trying to like Edgar Allan Poe

I LOVED Poe in high school. I really did. I had more fun reading a week’s worth of Poe than I did learning about every other literary work throughout the course of my junior year. It was different, it was fun. I was (and still am) a huge fan of Stephen King, and I was in the middle of reading his book Cell when we got into Poe, and it just seemed so similar. It was dark, witty, interesting. It was the type of writing I compared my fiction works to. My fiction works, in talking about those, were terrible solely because I based them off of the writing styles of Poe and King. Not many people can make something dark and ridiculous something readable, and I clearly wasn’t one of them. As I veer off topic, there’s one thing I’ve come to understanding in the past couple months: It’s really hard to pick a side with Poe.

On one side, you have to sympathize with him. The poor guy couldn’t drink more than a couple beers before he blacked out. He was delirious and hammered, and frankly, would make for a good date. Cheap, easy, and super willing to get into someone else’s clothes (only after he takes his off, presumably). He went into a deep sort of depression after Virginia died, and he would only write enough to make a couple grand before he’d go back out and drink (This Site Seems To Know About Poe More Than I Do). That’s pretty rough, if you ask me.

On the other hand, he did marry his cousin. Now, a lot of my friends from Massachusetts and Connecticut make incest jokes because I live in such an isolated area (a five minute drive from Canada, to be exact), but I don’t think people of my lands would consider this. Maybe like a third cousin, but she’d have to be of age. NOT 13. I know it was a different time but that’s a huge what the f**k moment for me. Still, even right now I can’t get over it. It’s absolutely crazy to think about.

But then, you think about how his mother died and his father left when he was just a little kid. He joined the Army because he couldn’t afford a second year at the University of Virginia. EVEN after being in the Army, he failed to become a cadet in West Point and was like, “whatever. I’ll write poems.” And he did.

And this is where I have the hardest time deciding if I can’t deal with this guy or not. All life situations aside, he had a rough go from the start. But once he started writing, it was the type of literary works that nobody had ever seen before. Do I like the creativity? Yes. At first, anyways. But why on earth did he have to write about hiding bodies in his house and giving it away to the police after?  “I delight to have allayed your suspicions. I wish you all health, and a little more courtesy. By the bye, gentlemen, this—this is a very well constructed house.” [In the rabid desire to say something easily, I scarcely knew what I uttered at all.]—”I may say an excellentlywell constructed house. These walls—are you going, gentlemen?—these walls are solidly put together;” and here, through the mere phrenzy of bravado, I rapped heavily, with a cane which I held in my hand, upon that very portion of the brick-work behind which stood the corpse of the wife of my bosom” (OpenAmLit). Every Poe poem, summed up like this. After the first three poems I knew what the end was going to be.

Can’t stand it.


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