“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality”
– Edgar Allan Poe
The Master of Horror believed that every individual, no matter how “normal” he may appear, was capable of descending into madness. Poe dared to take a sneak peek at the deep, dark territories of the human mind, which were left largely unexplored by the other writers of his era. Greatly inspired by “Gothic” fiction, Poe observed with great insight the minutely spun web that is human psyche. A poet, an author and a literary critic, Poe also revolutionized and perfected the short story genre. 207 years ago, on this very day, America saw the birth of the man who was to become the greatest treasure in the history of literature.
As a tribute to The Master of Horror, these are a few facts that we bet you didn’t know about him –
- Poets and authors were men of exceptional capability, without a doubt. But they had their own specific set of whims and quirks. Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Toni Morrison – you name it, they all had curious habits and Poe was no exception. He was extremely fond of cats, almost to the point of obsession, and often had a cat on his shoulder while writing. That’s the Master of Horror for you.
- He introduced the literary detective in what was to become the extremely popular detective fiction. In his “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, he introduced the figure of the classic detective.
- In one of his most well known poems, “The Raven”, Poe initially wanted to depict a parrot. But unfortunately, it did not go with the ambience. No, you need a raven to add just the right amount of eeriness.
- After “The Raven” was published, there are recorded stories of children, who had become obsessed with the poem and would follow him around, cawing and flapping their arms. His “Nevermore” went on to become one of the most iconic and oft quoted lines in literature.
- There is a theory that Poe was named after a character in Shakespeare’s “King Lear”. His biological parents were acting in a version of “King Lear” when he was born in 1809.
- The cause and events surrounding his death are not clear, but it is fascinating to note that his cat, Catterina, died on the same day as him, although they weren’t together
- Poe was fascinated by cryptography and incorporated that into his “The Gold Bug”
- Poe got married Virginia Clemm, his first cousin and 13 years his junior at the time of marriage
- Poe had been at war with contemporary writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne, over plagiarism issues.
- Just before his death, Poe disappeared for 5 days. When he was found in Baltimore, he was delusional and had no idea how he got there. To this day, we are not sure how or why he died. Well, he is did deal with the grotesque and the unimaginable. What else could you expect from Poe?
Poe dealt with the macabre in his works, but he did not let the supernatural or the horror and fear dominate his poems or stories. His works have reached hundreds of readers, across cultures and across generations because he acknowledged the presence of a mystical world, beyond the realms of the “real world” we exist in.
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