Edgar Allan Poe died on this day (Oct 7) in 1849. He’s one of my favourite writers, loves the macabre, the depressing, the puzzling and the accurate – yes he was quite the pedant and an obsessed perfectionist. Check out some of his poems if you want an example, or even some of his criticisms which were often pedantic to the extreme. He is regarded as the inventor of the detective novel. It’s quite poetic, actually, that his death also alluded to the mysterious – the circumstances of his demise have never been satisfactorily determined.
I don’t have a huge interest in reading novels – I’m more into the history books for leisurely reading (I realise how strange that may sound!) – so my writing skills leave a lot to be desired, especially since graduating from university and leaving academia for the time being. Nevertheless, when I eventually get round to reading a novel it will be one of the giants. I’m reading Joyce ‘at the moment’, but Poe’s short stories are fantastically well-written and accessible (just have a dictionary handy). Check out ‘The Purloined Letter’, ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’, and ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ to get you started.
As for poems, well, you need to be prepared. For instance, you can’t read Poe on a sunny day. Make it a Sunday, a Sunday evening. Better still, a dark, stormy night, preferably with a full moon. Then begin reading. They’re not the kind of thing to engage in if you’re in a happy mood and want to remain thus.
‘The Raven’ has fascinated me for years – until I finally learned the whole thing off! What a work! Tis a bit tricky remembering, however, when to recite ‘rapping’ instead of ‘tapping’, as well as some other similar parts. Here’s my favourite part:
“Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.”
Tragedy and misery are in such high doses with Poe. Eh, yeah, that’s how I’m able to connect Poe to Ireland. So, there was a reason I was including Poe on this blog. It was revealed at the end – just like Poe’s detective tales.
Continuing with tragedy, but, paradoxically, in a lighter way, I want to mention one other event that happened on this day in history:On this day [yeah, I know - I always do my blogs a day too late!], in 2003, Californians voted to recall Governor Gray Davis from office and elected Arnold Schwarzenegger from a list of 135 candidates. And with that we link back to Poe through Dylan Moran, who referred to Arnold in one of his shows, and who, it can’t be denied, has a Poe complex.