The Man Who Was Poe

by Avi

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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 368

1. At present, there are two competing images of Poe the man. One depicts him as a dissolute alcoholic and drug abuser whose tales evoked his sexual fantasies. The other says that he was beset by a genetic disease, and that he was a strong, determined man whose reputation was ruined by people who disliked him. Why the disagreement? What is the evidence, either way?

2. Who is Poe's Auguste Dupin? Where may he be found? What is his historical importance? What is his importance to literature?

3. Edmund's Providence has a system of law enforcement that seems very different from modern ones. The events of The Man Who Was Poe take place between 1847 and 1849. How was law enforcement organized in Providence at that time? Where would Throck fit in?

4. Why would Edmund's mother have to come to America from London to get a divorce?

5. How close does The Man Who Was Poe come to reading like Poe's stories of Auguste Dupin? Does the character Poe use techniques similar to those of Dupin?

6. Where does Avi do his better work, in historical novels such as The Man Who Was Poe or in modern realistic novels such as Nothing but the Truth?

7. A few of Poe's stories of detection are mentioned in The Man Who Was Poe. Which ones? What is each about? Why would each stir the imaginations of readers, maybe even making them want to become detectives themselves?

8. Avi says that Poe died "under mysterious circumstances." What were these circumstances? What causes of death have been suggested? Which seems most probable?

9. Why is Edmund deferential to grownups? What were the customs regarding the relationships between youngsters and grownups in his day? What does it mean for his characterization when he questions Poe's conclusions and even, at the climax, defies him?

10. Throck and Fortnoy resemble the villains and are mistaken for them. In mystery writing, this makes them "red herrings," meaning characters meant to misdirect attention from the real guilty parties. What other techniques typical of mysteries are in The Man Who Was Poe?

11. Mr. Fortnoy is a watchman for ships in port. What was this profession and what were its duties? Is it still a profession in Providence or elsewhere?

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