The Haunted Palace Critical Essays

Frances Winwar


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Of all the classical American writers, Poe is by far the most popular with young people. This acceptance may be attributable to the fact that Poe, as a result of some quirk in his personality that Winwar endeavors to discover, remained immature all of his life. In addition, many young people can identify with Poe because of his rebelliousness, his interest in the macabre, his delight in fantasy, and his feeling of being misunderstood. Many distinguished American authors of Poe’s time and before may seem pompous, sententious, and even hypocritical to modern young Americans; they like Poe because he is so different from such authors as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, and many others who believed that it was the duty of authors to be uplifting and inspiring, to promote “sweetness and light.”

Poe was largely responsible for the invention of the horror and mystery genres, so dear to young people’s hearts through television and film, and many of Poe’s own stories have been adapted to the screen, usually in a ruthlessly bowdlerized form. Poe himself has been presented on the screen as a maniacal character steeped in drugs and alcohol, someone not unlike Robert Louis Stevenson’s character Mr. Hyde. Young readers may want to know more about this strange individual’s life, and The Haunted Palace—although it is certainly not easy reading—gives them the best available introduction.


(The entire section is 581 words.)