Why Edgar Allan Poe's work is still so damn good and creepy


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/09/18/why-edgar-allan-poes-work-is.html




Haven’t there already been a thousand theses on this subject?



Superb. I love that whole album.


My favorite poem by Poe:


I can’t bloody remember the title or author, but there’s a good essay/book out there which does a good job arguing that a lot of Poe’s macabre work is actually tongue in cheek. Having read (virtually) all of Poe’s work in chronological order via The Unabridged Edgar Allan Poe I find this at least somewhat plausible. Of course, Poe’s Law being Poe’s Law it can be difficult to be sure about any individual work.


That’s interesting, and reminds me that Poe’s stories and poems are one thing, but to read his literary criticism is to see him thinking on what went into the making of a good story or poem, and sometimes being clear on what wasn’t cutting it:

But in this review of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s collection “Twice-Told Tales” he gets into some of his ideas on writing the “tale”:

In particular, this passage from the review is often quoted:
A skilful literary artist has constructed a tale. If wise, he has not fashioned his thoughts to accommodate his incidents; but having conceived, with deliberate care, a certain unique or single effect to be wrought out, he then invents such incidents- he then combines such events as may best aid him in establishing this preconceived effect. If his very initial sentence tend not to the out-bringing of this effect, then he has failed in his first step. In the whole composition there should be no word written, of which the tendency, direct or indirect, is not to the one pre-established design. And by such means, with such care and skill, a picture is at length painted which leaves in the mind of him who contemplates it with a kindred art, a sense of the fullest satisfaction. The idea of the tale has been presented unblemished, because undisturbed; and this is an end unattainable by the novel. Undue brevity is just as exceptionable here as in the poem; but undue length is yet more to be avoided.




I first encountered a lot of Poe’s stories told around a campfire. That’s pretty special I think. The only other source of campfire stories I can name is Monty Python.


Second-worst movie theater candy


I never read his stories. From which book should I start?


Tales of Mystery and Imagination is a pretty good starter.


Thanks a lot! I start reading it this evening :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


Enjoy! He’s one of my favorites.


Good find! I always enjoy reading stuff like this - where someone who’s good at their art is kind of groping for the words to describe how they do it, before there were all the writing cliches that captured these ideas.

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