By David Herberg
Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer, critic, and poet.He was perhaps best
known for his mastery of writing the short-story. Poe was also especially famous for his
mysterious and horrifying tales. Though Poe has often been criticized for his careless
ways of living, his works have been popular and writers still express their goods words of
After being born in Boston, Massachusetts and orphaned at an early age, Poe was
brought up and raised by a man by the name of John Allan. Allan was a man plagued
with success in the business world of Richmond, Virginia. John Allan refused to pay for
Edgars studies at the University of Virginia after being disappointed in Edgars drinking
and gambling addictions. He also refused to pay Edgars debts and forced him to work as
Not liking his job, Edgar moved back to Boston. There he anonymously published
his first book Tamerlane and Other Poems. Afterwards, Poe joined the US. Army and
two years later, after becoming a Sergeant Major, he was honorably discharged.
Poe went on to write many more stories and poems such as the story The Pit and the
Pendulum, possibly his most famous piece. He also went on to write some other short
stories of terror such as The Fall of The House of Usher and MS. Found in a
Bottle.(Poe, Edgar Allan Microsoft(R) Encarta (R) 97 Encyclopedia).
Poe was favored and appreciated by many critics and other writers. H.L. Menken
(perhaps the best known critic of the 20th Century) seemed to admire Poe even though he
said the Poe wrote abominably and that some of his most celebrated short stories are
done in a Johnsonese that would have disgraced the late Harding.(Edgar Allan Poe, The
Man Behind the Legend, pg. 6). His writing, such as in The Pit and the Pendulum,
could now be called abnormal psychology.
Poe was a manic depressive, a nuisance, a drinker and so on, but he was a great
author. Even though many people say that he was an act and he wrote for the money,
whatever he was, he attracted many people to reading his books.(The Man Behind the
Mask, intro. Eight Tales of Terror intro.) He was possibly the Dennis Rodman of the
19th century. Thats why he, like other authors and critics are studied upon. To
understand the characters they were and to understand what they are trying to express.