Edgar Allen Poe is perhaps the best known American gothic writer. Poe was influenced by the works of Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, Bulwer-Lytton and DeQuincey and had a particular passion for Byron. He even attempted to recreate Byron's swim across the Hellespont (in imitation of Leander) by swimming across the James River, six miles against the tide. Poe's story, The Assignation, is set in Venice, one of Byron's last homes, and contains a character clearly modelled on him. It opens: Ill-fated and mysterious man! -- bewildered in the brilliancy of thine own imagination, and fallen in the flames of thine own youth! and could equally be applied to Poe himself.
Annabelle Leigh was inspired by Poe's wife, his cousin Virginia Clemm, who was only 13 when they were wed. She died young, perhaps the precursor of his many expiring heroines. Poe, who had known her from babyhood, was like a brother to her: he called her Sis and her mother Muddy. The name Annabelle Leigh could be a conflation of Annabelle Milbanke and Augusta Leigh, Byron's wife and sister.
The Mystery of Marie Roget was based on a real murder case, that of Mary Rogers, a New York shop girl, which has caused speculation that Poe was somehow involved in her murder.
was a great admirer of Poe; his translations and criticism introduced
Poe to many receptive writers in France, among them Stéphane
Mallarme, Paul Verlaine, Villiers de l'Isle Adam, Valéry, and
Other admirers and imitators included Robert Louis Stevenson, Herman Melville (Moby Dick owes much to The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym and Jules Verne's Le Sphinx des Glaces was written as a sequel to the same story), Dante Gabriel Rossetti, H. P. Lovecraft, Sheridan Le Fanu, Robert W. Chambers, and countless others. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle partly modelled his Sherlock Holmes on Dupin, and Wilkie Collins' mysteries may owe something to the same detective. He is also considered one of the earliest science fiction writers, and probably influenced Bulwer-Lytton's later other-race stories.
Poe's death was something of a mystery. He disappeared for three days, and was found incoherent, in a gutter, wearing someone else's clothes. Shortly thereafter, he died. Baudelaire called Poe's death almost a suicide - a suicide prepared for a long time. It was reported coldly thus: Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it. The poet was known, personally or by reputation, in all this country; he had readers in England, and in several of the states of Continental Europe; but he had few or no friends; and the regrets for his death will be suggested principally by the consideration that in him literary art has lost one of its most brilliant but erratic stars.
|It has not been in pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been in the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness, and a dread of some strange impending doom.|
Les personnages de Poe,
ou plutôt le personnage de Poe, l'homme aux
facultés suraiguës, l'homme aux nerfs relâchés,
l'homme dont la volonté
ardente et patiente jette un défi aux difficultés, celui dont
le regard est tendu avec la roideur d'une épée sur des objets
qui grandissent à mesure qu'il les regarde, c'est Poe lui-même.
Et ses femmes, toutes lumineuses et
malades, mourant de maux bizarres et parlant avec une voix qui ressemble
une musique, c'est encore lui; ou du moins, par leurs aspirations étranges,
par leur savoir, par leur mélancolie inguérissable, elles
participent fortement de la nature de leur créateur. Charles Baudelaire
Et ses femmes, toutes lumineuses et malades, mourant de maux bizarres et parlant avec une voix qui ressemble à une musique, c'est encore lui; ou du moins, par leurs aspirations étranges, par leur savoir, par leur mélancolie inguérissable, elles participent fortement de la nature de leur créateur.