History of the Text
Publication History: By the time “The Raven” was published in 1845, Edgar Allan Poe was already a prolific and well known author of both poetry and short stories. Upon publication, the poem was circulated by a number of New York-based newspapers, launching Poe into literary fame but failing to provide him with financial security. The immediate and intense popularity of “The Raven” brought about parodies and polarizing reviews. While some readers were enraptured by the poem’s musicality and atmosphere, others, including William Butler Yeats and Ralph Waldo Emerson, found it vapid and without true substance. Despite this, “The Raven” endures as his most successful and widely read poem.
Romanticism’s Height: When Poe wrote “The Raven,” Romanticism was the dominant literary movement in American fiction and poetry. Romanticism stresses emotion over intellect and focuses on characters’ interior lives and is commonly characterized by intense, poignant experiences of emotion.
- Gothic literature, which features elements of the strange, the mysterious, and the supernatural, developed as a type of Romantic literature; “The Raven” is an example of this extension. Like many of Poe’s short stories, his poem draws readers into the dark, disturbed mind of a narrator grappling with emotional and psychological conflicts.