Themes and Characters
The character in The Man Who Was Poe who is likely to spark the most interest is Edgar Allan Poe, the author who is often regarded as the greatest short story writer of all. The facts of his life are disputed; he did not help matters by sensationalizing some of his life in his letters. After his death, those who first wrote of his life, especially Rufus W. Griswold, Poe's literary executor, depicted him in a bad light. They did this to to sully his reputation—of which they were envious—but also to sell newspapers, sensational stories attracting large audiences then as they do now.
Poe was depicted as man thrown out of the army for drunkenness, as is mentioned in The Man Who Was Poe, and as a drug abuser whose drug-induced delusions inspired his tales and poems such as "The Raven." There seems little room for doubt that he did sometimes behave oddly in public, stumbling as if drunk, and he did have trouble holding down jobs, although was a good and moderately successful newspaper editor for many years. Beginning with Arthur Hobson Quinn's Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography, published in 1941, researchers began to reassess Poe's life; Quinn pointed out significant flaws in the depictions of Poe's dissolution.
Since the mid-1970s, information has come to light that suggests that Poe was actually a fine, robust military officer who had to end his military career because illness. Medicine was barely becoming a science in...
(The entire section is 1220 words.)
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