Author Topic: Edgar Allan Poe  (Read 5110 times)

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Offline J-Proof

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Edgar Allan Poe
« on: March 14, 2007, 02:17:52 PM »
Sifting around the readables at home, I decided to pick up my "Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe" and fan through my favs. (After performing "The Raven" in a high school drama, the poem is still compeltley fresh in my mind [/brag])

Anyway - I did a High School thesis on this guy (hardcore-academic high school) and had some immediate thoughts at the time:

After completing his work and reflecting on the grand butt-load-o'-stories, I was initially unimpressed by a good 75% of it. While many of his stories have great plots with sound arcs, the way his stories are presented lacked something motivating to the high-school reader. Almost as if he was trying to impress his audience with how many words he could use, versus the subtle grammatical and literary wonders he could perform with them. (I still honestly think Alexander Dumas is an easier read than the majority of Poe)

That being said, after rereading some of the tales I had previously not enjoyed in High School, I found myself with the proper constitution to enjoy them as a young adult. Now I'm curious if anyone else has encountered a similar situation with Poe, or if any jsut flat-out loved all of Poe's work right from the get-go!

Locomotives are neither Loco nor motive: Discuss!

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Offline RandyMistie

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Re: Edgar Allan Poe
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2007, 02:24:40 PM »
Always loved Poe, even in high school, but I did enjoy his poetry better than his fiction.  I agree about his verbosity, but I cut my teeth on Shakespeare so, excess verbiage is not too much of an impediment to me.

Yeah, better poet than novelist/short story writer, etc.
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Offline starfighter

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Re: Edgar Allan Poe
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2007, 04:02:39 PM »
   Poe stories are always been ripe for adaptation to comic or film since it does eliminate the excess verbiage.  Lovecraft stories are the same way for me.  The Warren magazines like Creepy and Eerie had a number of Poe adaptations  and my memory says Berni Wrightson drew a number of them.  I know I should try to appreciate the craft of the writer more but sometimes you just want the story laid out in front of you.
    I'm also reminded of how the movies of Poe stories have always been some of Roger Corman's best work but that might have more to do with Matheson's screenplays and Price's acting.
    Ray Bradbury has also been adapted into any number of good comic stories, especially by Wally Wood in the old EC titles but I've also loved his writing style since I first read his work in school.


Offline sarcasm_made_Easy

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Re: Edgar Allan Poe
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2007, 04:22:22 PM »
the thing about his verbosity is that with him it really isnt verbosity for verbosity sake.  Different audience afterall.  And he is good with the words. 

His poetry is amazing and his stories are less interesting because they have become staples so they SEEM like they are less original even when you KNOW they arent. 


Offline RandyMistie

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Re: Edgar Allan Poe
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2007, 04:23:28 PM »
   Poe stories are always been ripe for adaptation to comic or film since it does eliminate the excess verbiage.  Lovecraft stories are the same way for me.  The Warren magazines like Creepy and Eerie had a number of Poe adaptations  and my memory says Berni Wrightson drew a number of them.  I know I should try to appreciate the craft of the writer more but sometimes you just want the story laid out in front of you.
    I'm also reminded of how the movies of Poe stories have always been some of Roger Corman's best work but that might have more to do with Matheson's screenplays and Price's acting.
    Ray Bradbury has also been adapted into any number of good comic stories, especially by Wally Wood in the old EC titles but I've also loved his writing style since I first read his work in school.

Right, right, all around.  Lovecraft was the King of Hyperbole!  I love his overly EFFUSIVE descriptions, I think he made up adjectives!

But, Bradbury is not in that league.  His style is clean and his prose is lyrical without being overly excessive.  I've always admired his style, as well.
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Offline RandyMistie

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Re: Edgar Allan Poe
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2007, 07:24:53 AM »
the thing about his verbosity is that with him it really isnt verbosity for verbosity sake.  Different audience afterall.  And he is good with the words. 

His poetry is amazing and his stories are less interesting because they have become staples so they SEEM like they are less original even when you KNOW they arent. 

I think Sarc makes a good point here--we have the advantage of many decades of distance during which Poe's stories have become ingrained in our collective cultural milieu, and it isn't obvious to us how original they were at the time.  I personally love a number of his stories--my favorite is indubitably The Cask of Amontillado, though I enjoy Masque of the Red Death as well.

As for his poems, I've only read The Raven and The Bells, but the latter I found insipidly stupid--it has entire lines which just repeat the word "Bells".

I think Poe was one of...maybe two? Maybe three? Authors we read in American Lit whom I liked. 



Well, yes, of course, Imrahil, every author is in some way a product of his time.  Look at Shakespeare, I mean, that writing STYLE is no longer really acceptable but it is still magnificent, (and sometimes I wish people still spoke that way!).  That was my point to J-Proof.  You have to find the beauty that existed THEN to appreciate it.

I remember the first time I read Moby Dick, I thought, "Why didn't anyone ever tell me how FUNNY this book was!"  If you get into the mindset of the time period it was written, there was real comedy.  Like when Ishmael says that too long on land makes his countenance furrow (very paraphrased from memory), and he wants to walk through the streets knocking men's hats from their heads.  Or, when Quiqueg is trying to put the pants on because Ishmeal tells him that proper men don't go around naked?  That was hilarious.  The poor guy is trying to squirm around on the floor to get the pants on and then he tries to hide under the bed because the window is open... I was rolling!  But, no one ever talks about the humor in the writing, I think because they get bogged down in the antiquated STYLE.

The other point is, what was shocking then, is no longer so much.  I mean we see people getting walled up alive every other week on CSI these days, but back then, people probably fainted when they read about it.  Just as an example.  Once again, I think you have to kind of, "time travel" in your mind to really appreciate the classics as they were meant to be appreciated.
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Offline J-Proof

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Re: Edgar Allan Poe
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2007, 07:49:08 AM »
I think Sarc makes a good point here--we have the advantage of many decades of distance during which Poe's stories have become ingrained in our collective cultural milieu, and it isn't obvious to us how original they were at the time.  I personally love a number of his stories--my favorite is indubitably The Cask of Amontillado, though I enjoy Masque of the Red Death as well.

As for his poems, I've only read The Raven and The Bells, but the latter I found insipidly stupid--it has entire lines which just repeat the word "Bells".

I think Poe was one of...maybe two? Maybe three? Authors we read in American Lit whom I liked. 

The Raven is a fantastic poem, tho I always wondered what was so special about "The Bells?" The repetition doesn't play through successfully, at least in our vernacular -- maybe it worked better to the more traditional tongue?

Anyway - having read basically all of Poe's work (all 1,049 pages of essays, poems, short stories, and one novel) I have to say that I agree with the general consensus that he is a much better (perhaps timeless is a better choice of words) poet than novelist. While "Fall of the House of Usher," "Mask of the Red Death," and all the rest of his famous short stories are quite timeless, I think he is still most effective with his poetry.

Many of his critics back in that time had the same things to say for his work that we do. In the annex of my "Complete Tales" edition they have a list of complaints (as well as praises) that were offered for his work. Many professors of literature found his short stories to be poorly written, relying on shock value to leave his audience with a false sense of uniqueness. (M Night Shayamalan of the past anyone?)
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Offline RandyMistie

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Re: Edgar Allan Poe
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2007, 08:07:44 AM »
Huh.  Well, it just goes to show you that I don't like the canon of  "literature" whenever it's written, then.  Because Poe was one of the very few bright spots in the otherwise blighted, blasted landscape known as American Lit.

Agreed.
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Offline RandyMistie

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Re: Edgar Allan Poe
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2007, 08:18:02 AM »
Oh, and I disagree about "The Bells", actually.  Repetition can be a powerful force in poetry and that is something that Poe understood.  Poetry is a meditation on a theme, like chanting a mantra, repetition is supposed to draw you into, almost hypnotically, the emotional state that the author is creating.

Remember that poetry is not communicating in language, like, say, a novel or a forum post, it is trying to actually to break through language to some "other" place where we communicate.  Repetition is an tool that many poets have used to pierce that veil.

OR, he could have been smoking too much opium.  LOL!!!  (I was reading that back and it sounded SO pompous I HAD to break it up!  Sorry everybody!)
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Offline sarcasm_made_Easy

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Re: Edgar Allan Poe
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2007, 09:38:54 AM »
Quote
Oh, and I disagree about "The Bells", actually.  Repetition can be a powerful force in poetry and that is something that Poe understood.  Poetry is a meditation on a theme, like chanting a mantra, repetition is supposed to draw you into, almost hypnotically, the emotional state that the author is creating.
Quote
OR, he could have been smoking too much opium.  LOL!!!  (I was reading that back and it sounded SO pompous I HAD to break it up!  Sorry everybody!)

It wasnt pompous, i agreed with it.  Poems to me seem more like emotional things than rational.  And thats their charm.

Quote
I remember the first time I read Moby Dick, I thought, "Why didn't anyone ever tell me how FUNNY this book was!" 

I had the same thing happen when i recently picked up oliver twist (still havent finished).  When i was younger i tried to read it, but i found it boring and hard.  In december i tried again, being considerably older.  The book is dripping in so much sarcasm its just impossible to catch it all.  It shocked me.  It was wonderful. 


Offline RandyMistie

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Re: Edgar Allan Poe
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2007, 11:19:58 AM »
Funny story about Poe.  Last summer I thought I would give Anne Rice another try... yes, don't laugh... my wife always liked her and I just couldn't get through "Interview with a Vampire" in the 80's, although I wanted to because I am a vampire fan.  But, I thought I would try and struggle through once more.  Well, this time I got through Interview and Lestat, but I just threw "Queen of the Damned" across the room and said, "NO MORE HOMOSEXUALITY!!!"  I had had my yearly fill by then, you see...

Anyway, when I went to buy new copies of the books, I went to my local Border's and began to scan the horror sections.  No joy.  I went on to Mystery, nuttin', Fantasy?  Donut Hole.  I even went to Romance, no Rice.  Then my eyes pulled involuntarily to the Literature section.  "No..." I whispered.  I staggered, horrified, to the large, dusty shelves all the while trying to convince myself that there was no way that a writer, perhaps only marginally better than King or Straub, writing about fantasy creatures with more in common with Elves than vampires, could possibly be in Literature when I found myself facing my worse fear...

There she was!  Well, I snatched the books and went up to the counter and it's pimply faced occupant.  Full of intellectual snobbery fueled indignation, I asked, "Why is Anne Rice in the Literature section next to Edgar Allan Poe!!!"  The kid nervously looked at me and stammered...

"Yeah... I guess Poe should be in the horror section..."

"NOOOOOO!!!"

Man, I wish I was stupid.  It must be like being stoned all the time...
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Offline sarcasm_made_Easy

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Re: Edgar Allan Poe
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2007, 12:09:19 PM »
yeah but the stupid people wont see it coming when i accidently run them down in the parking lot in my car for exactly that same thing,  God that pisses me off to.  How can they even group that crap together?  retarded.  yeah lets put chaucer over there, mellville, hemingway, london, AH and anne rice.  IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE  *insert retarded cuckle here*   :angry:


Offline sarcasm_made_Easy

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Re: Edgar Allan Poe
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2007, 12:33:48 PM »
heh true enough, and although i admit this is nothing other than snobbery and my utter dislike for interview with an vampire (found it boring dry and trite) i still say she doesnt belong next to some of those others.


Offline RandyMistie

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Re: Edgar Allan Poe
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2007, 12:43:10 PM »
yeah but the stupid people wont see it coming when i accidently run them down in the parking lot in my car for exactly that same thing,  God that pisses me off to.  How can they even group that crap together?  retarded.  yeah lets put chaucer over there, mellville, hemingway, london, AH and anne rice.  IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE  *insert retarded cuckle here*   :angry:

While I tend to agree with both of you personally, we have to step back and ask ourselves--just what constitutes "literature"? Is there a canon? How do you get in to it? Was Poe automatically in this canon of literature or not?  And I think you'll probably find that he wasn't. 

So it's not as cut-and-dried as all that.

Well, of course, that's true, Imrahil.  There are SOME standards set by the Holy Trinity of Academia, Oxford, Harvard, and Yale but I think we could all agree that Anne Rice, while a very fine writer, can't really meet the lofty standards of The Canon.  

I mean... I know there is constant debate over Tolkien, mostly because he deals in fantasy.  Oxford has pretty staunchly stood by Tolkien as worthy of the title, but they are biased, naturally, as he was a luminary staff member there, Head of a department, and all.  But, Harvard and Yale have gone on record that they don't agree.  Pure adolescent escapism, I think they put it, not in so many words.  But, Rice?  I don't think any of those institutions would hesitate to laugh you out of the office if you suggested it.

Anyway, I don't mean to offend anyone, Rice is a good writer and an excellent researcher, I learned a great deal about the time periods wherein she wrote.  She's just not my cup of tea, and I certainly don't think she should be considered "literature", is all.
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Offline sarcasm_made_Easy

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Re: Edgar Allan Poe
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2007, 01:04:55 PM »
Quote
There are SOME standards set by the Holy Trinity of Academia, Oxford, Harvard, and Yale but I think we could all agree that Anne Rice, while a very fine writer, can't really meet the lofty standards of The Canon. 

hey what about cambridge?