Edgar Allan Poe (Magill Book Reviews)
Poet, critic, creator of the detective story, one of the leading progenitors of horror fiction, author of some of the finest and most widely read tales in the English language, Edgar Allan Poe still awaits a biographer who will combine a penetrating study of his works with a narrative of his life, the one illuminating and illuminated by the other.
In 1991, Kenneth Silverman published EDGAR A. POE: MOURNFUL AND NEVER-ENDING REMEMBRANCE, the first full-scale biography of Poe in some fifty years. In addition to his own extensive research, Silverman had the benefit of Dwight Thomas and David K. Jackson’s THE POE LOG: A DOCUMENTARY LIFE OF EDGAR ALLAN POE 1809-1849 (1987), an extraordinarily detailed factual chronicle of Poe’s life. Silverman writes with a historian’s respect for evidence. Unlike many contemporary biographies, his thoroughly documented life of Poe avoids irresponsible conjecture on matters both large and small. Silverman’s interpretive reading of Poe’s life and works, however, heavily influenced by psychoanalytic theory, is less satisfactory.
Jeffrey Meyers, a prolific biographer whose recent subjects include Joseph Conrad, D. H. Lawrence, and Ernest Hemingway, has produced a life of Poe which is much shorter than Silverman’s, less cautious, with more narrative drive. (Meyers notes that he had completed his book before Silverman’s was published.)
Like Silverman, Meyers fails to deal adequately with Poe as...
(The entire section is 325 words.)
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