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The Raven - POE and HIS WRITINGS

This drawing, depicting Poe with his cat (Catterina) and his wife (in front of the fireplace) is by Chas. Sheldon. It was used, among other things, to illustrate a book cover for The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, published by T.Y. Crowell & Co. (in 1902).

 

By all accounts, Poe and Virginia adored each other.  He taught her algebra; she sang to him.  They played games together; he tried to support a three-person family. 

Finances were a constant struggle.  Even Maria Clemm - the third member of Poe's household - tried to find work.

Beyond his life as a critic, Poe was writing fiction.  He launched the detective-story genre when he wrote The Murders in the Rue Morgue (featuring mystery-solver C. Auguste Dupin).  It was published, in Graham's Magazine, during 1841. 

No respecter of victims, Poe's pen killed-off young and old alike:

... The daughter lay prostrate and motionless; she had swooned.  The screams and struggles of the old lady (during which the hair was torn from her head) had the effect of changing the probably pacific purposes of the [murderer] into those of wrath ... Conscious of having deserved punishment, it seemed desirous of concealing its bloody deeds, and skipped about the chamber in an agony of nervous agitation ... it seized first the corpse of the daughter, and thrust it up the chimney, as it was found; then that of the old lady, which it immediately hurled through the window headlong.  (Excerpt from Rue Morgue, by Edgar Allan Poe, 1841.)

He also ended the lives of males and females in stories like The Masque of the Red Death in which the host of a ball - Prince Prospero - fails to survive his own grand party.  Perhaps Poe was thinking of the blood of a tuberculosis victim when he wrote these words:

And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death.  He had come like a thief in the night.  And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall ...  And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.  (Excerpt from The Masque of the Red Death, by Poe, 1842.)

Then ... the blood of Poe's fiction began to mix with the blood of Poe's real life.

One day in 1842, while Virginia was singing and playing her piano, she coughed-up blood.  In light of what he'd been through with his mother - and with Fanny Allan - Poe must have instantly worried about "consumption."  Virginia did, in fact, have tuberculosis.

Her symptoms varied widely.  Sometimes she was wretchedly ill; other times she seemed unaffected.  For Poe, who watched his wife struggle for five years, the sorrow must have been overwhelming. 

Writing at home, where his wife was dying, Poe knew that one day he would lose her, too.  We can sense the looming loss in some of his works - like "The Raven."

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5124stories and lessons created

Original Release: May 01, 2012

Updated Last Revision: Aug 05, 2016


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"POE and HIS WRITINGS" AwesomeStories.com. May 01, 2012. Oct 22, 2017.
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