By January 16, 2009 0 Comments Read More →

Happy 200th Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe

. . . hope you don’t have too much wood under your fingernails. In the Wall Street Journal, John J. Miller writes about Edgar Allan Poe in anticipation of bicentennial of Poe’s birth on January 19 (“Poe at 200 — Eerie After All These Years“).

Yet there can be no doubt that Poe left a deep mark on literature. He invented both the detective story (“The Murders in the Rue Morgue”) and the sequel to the detective story (“The Mystery of Marie Roget” and “The Purloined Letter”). An attraction to new technologies and cutting-edge ideas such as hot-air balloons, mesmerism, and cryptography made him a pioneer of science fiction. He could be a savage critic: “I intend to put up with nothing I can put down,” he boasted.

On Booklist Online, so does Ray Olson (“Another Look at . . . Edgar Allan Poe“):

The horror stories are the best of Poe’s fiction, but the best of the poems are better. If, that is, you consent to be lulled by sound effects. Long derided as “the jingle-jangle man” for the abundant rhymes, onomatopoeia, assonance, consonance, repetition, and strong rhythms of his verse, Poe was quite willing to risk nonsense for the sake of pure sound. So doing, he anticipated the early-twentieth-century sound poetry of Kurt Schwitters and Hugo Ball and the contemporary speech performances of Jaap Blonk (all available on audio CDs).

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About the Author:

Keir Graff is the editor of Booklist Online and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix.

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