Edgar Allan Poe @200

Edgar Allan Poe, American writer and poet @200

A photograph of a daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe 1848, first published 1880

A photograph of a daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe 1848,

first published 1880

Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809October 7, 1849) was an American writer, and one of the leaders of the American Romanticism. Best known for his tales of the macabre and mystery, Poe was one of the early American practitioners of the short story and a progenitor of detective fiction and crime fiction. During his lifetime he was more popular in France (thanks to the translations of Baudelaire) than in his native country. After his premature death at the age of 40 he became internationally renowned. The Japanese writer Edogawa Rampo derived his pseudonym of his name. He came to the attention of 20th century audiences via the low-budget film adaptations by Roger Corman starring Vincent Price.

If you only want to read one story by Poe, read “Loss of Breath.”

Loss of Breath: A Tale Neither in nor Out of “Blackwood” (1832) is a short story by Poe, first published on June 9 or November 10 1832. It concerns a man who suspects that his wife has stolen his breath.

David Ketterer describes the story as: “A surrealistic fantasy in which the idea that death involves not loss of life but merely loss of breath is combined with a whimsical but, for biographers of Poe’s psyche, revealing equation between loss of breath and loss of sexual potency on the narrator’s wedding night”.[1]

“Behold me then safely ensconced in my private boudoir, a fearful instance of the ill consequences attending upon irascibility—alive, with the qualifications of the dead—dead, with the propensities of the living—an anomaly on the face of the earth—being very calm, yet breathless.”

“The purchaser took me to his apartments and commenced operations immediately. Having cut off my ears, however, he discovered signs of animation. He now rang the bell, and sent for a neighboring apothecary with whom to consult in the emergency. In case of his suspicions with regard to my existence proving ultimately correct, he, in the meantime, made an incision in my stomach, and removed several of my viscera for private dissection. “

5 thoughts on “Edgar Allan Poe @200

  1. lichanos

    As the songsters of MAD Magazine said,

    There’s no stories like Poe stories,
    like no stories, I know…

    I am fond of Corman’s films, but I think generations of 20th century children, at least in the USA, were introduced to Poe by reading The Raven, The Telltale Heart, and The Fall of the House of Usher in grade school.

    A curious choice for the one-to-read, particularly because tall-tale humor is not what people think of when they think of EAP, although he wrote a lot of it. For my money, I’ve always been extra fond of the novella, The Adventures of Arthur Gordon Pym. Much beloved by your countryman, Magritte.

    Tekeli li, Jahsonic!

  2. lichanos

    BTW, I forgot to add, the Wiki source of the text to which you point omits a few words near the middle (when he jumps from the window) which makes it confusing, at least for me!

  3. jahsonic

    20th century children, at least in the USA,

    I wasn’t aware of that, good choice!


    ?, something with high school canon?

    makes it confusing, at least for me!

    I’ll give it a look.

    I only actually read Poe for the first time in April 2007, because I borrowed a Dutch-language copy from my library. His English is too difficult for me. I used to be a snob about wanting to read everything in its original language, but I try to read anything in Dutch now. Much more comfortable, no matter how good you are at a language, you always get stuck in the kitchen or outdoors (with its typical terminology)


  4. lichanos

    Poe’s English IS difficult, and mannered. For me, that’s part of his appeal.

    EAP…That’s Edgar Allan Poe…is that what you were asking?

  5. Paul Rumsey

    At the moment I am reading “The Dark Domain” by Stefan Grabinski, he has been called the Polish Poe.
    Another Poe type book… “The Blind Owl” by Sadegh Hedayat.
    I think you would like both…..

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