Fear in Writing: Death of a Genius, Revised

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Death of a Genius, Revised

When I am dead and gone, please don't exhume my body for an open-casket public viewing.
That being said, I in no way mean to compare myself to the incomparable Edgar Allan Poe. The great father of detective fiction died 160 years ago today, in Baltimore. That city has taken upon itself the task of giving Poe the funeral he never had. I had read about the extraordinary measures being taken to ensure this month's anniversary (and January's 200th of his birth) were spectacular, but The Rap Sheet reminded me of it today.
I'm not going to ask "What would Poe think?" I rather expect he would enjoy the macabre nature of it all. But I do wonder, "What do non-mystery buffs think of this fuss over a nearly two centuries-dead writer?"
Edgar Allan Poe was strange and phenomenally artistic. He wound the most interesting parts of his self and surroundings (both culturally and geographically) into his work. From the most famous poem The Raven (read it here, and find analysis here) to what many consider the first detective story, The Murders in the Rue Morgue...We all know Poe.
The picture at left and above is of Boris Karloff in 1935's The Raven. As much of a classic movie lover as I am, I had no idea until researching this post that the poem had ever graced the silver screen. And it didn't shy from big names: Bela Lugosi also starred.
But that is imposing modern culture on Poe's works. His works are amazing because they are relevant in any era. They were shocking in 1845 and they are disturbing now.
There are several portraits available of the writer, but I chose the one at the top of this post for its sadness. Look at Poe's eyes, the way they cast off to his upper left. Look at his mouth, how it is slightly scrunched, sending his moustache just out of line. Look how his hair is both neatly parted and savaged at the same time. He looks sad, haunted even. One longs to comfort him and run from him all at once. How brilliant. Mr. Poe, thank you.

1 comment:

  1. I love Poe- what an imagination! The man was the master of the psychological thriller- isn't it amazing how the words of a man so long dead can still make you shiver?