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Edgar Allan Poe

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Many authors have made great contributions to the world of

literature. Mark Twain introduced Americans to life on the

Mississippi. Thomas Hardy wrote on his pessimistic views of the

Victorian Age. Another author that influenced literature is Edgar

Allan Poe. Poe is known as the father of the American short story and

father of the detective story. To understand the literary

contributions of Edgar Allan Poe, one must look at his early life,

his literary life, and a summary of two of his famous works.

"Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston'' (Inglis 505) "on January

19, 1809'' (Asselineau 409). He was born to a southern family that

were in a traveling company of actors (Inglis 505). His father, David

Poe, was from a Baltimore family. He was an actor by profession and a

heavy drinker. Soon after Edgar Allan Poe was born, he left his

family. Poe's mother, Elizabeth Arnold Poe, was a widow at the age of

eighteen. Two years after his birth, she died of tuberculosis

(Asselineau 409). When his mother died, Poe was adopted by John Allan

(Perry XI) at the urging of Mr. Allan's wife. In 1815, John Allan

moved his family to England. While there, Poe was sent to private

schools (Asselineau 410).

In the spring of 1826, Poe entered the University of Virginia.

There he studied Spanish, French, Italian, and Latin. He had an

excellent scholastic record. He got into difficulties almost at once.

Mr. Allan did not provide him with the money to pay for his fees and

other necessities. Poe was confused and homesick. He learned to play

cards and started drinking. Soon he was in debt in excess of two

thousand dollars. Poe discovered that he could not depend upon Allan

for financial support. His foster father refused to pay his debts,

and Poe had to withdraw from the University (Asselineau 410).

In May of 1827, Poe enlisted in the army as a common soldier.

He did this under the name of Edgar A. Perry. He was stationed on

Sullivan's Island in Charleston Harbor for over a year. Poe adapted

very well to military discipline and quickly rose to the rank of

regimental sergeant major. After a while, he got tired of the same

daily routine involved in military life. Poe wrote regularly to Mr.

Allan. He met with Mr. Allan after the death of Mrs. Allan in

February of 1829. With Allan's support, he received his discharge and

enlisted in West Point on July 1, l830 (Asselineau 410). While at

West Point, Mr. Allan, who had remarried, continued in not providing

Poe with enough money. Poe decided to have himself kicked out of

school. Cutting classes and disregarding orders were his solutions.

He was court-martialed for neglect of duties in January, 1831, and

left West Point the following month (Asselineau 411).

"Poe was great in three different fields , and in each one he

made a reputation that would give any man a high place in literary

history. Poe wrote great short stories, famous not only in his

own country, but all over the world (Robinson V)." "Hawthorne,

Irving, Balzac, Bierce, Crane, Hemingway and other writers have given

us memorable short stories; but none has produced so great a number

of famous and unforgettable examples, so many tales that continue,

despite changing standards to be read and reprinted again and again

throughout the world (Targ VII)." "Poe was the father of the modern

short story, and the modern detective story (Targ VII)." "With

the possible exception of Guy de Maupassant, no other writer is so

universally known and esteemed for so large of a corpus of excellent

tales as in Edgar Allan Poe (Targ VII)."

In 1831, Poe succeeded in publishing a new edition of his

poems entitled, Poems. Poe was now in great difficulty. He went to

New York, but could find no job there. Eventually he took refuge with

his aunt, Mrs. Clemm, in Baltimore. There he decided to seek

employment and make his living by writing. Failing to get attention

with his poems, he decided to start writing short stories. Poe

competed in a contest for the best short story in 1831. The prize was

offered by Phil-Saturday Courier. Because he did not win the prize,

Poe started on an ambitious project. He decided to plan a series of

tales told by members of a literary group. He found no publisher for

his stories, and entered the contest again in June of 1835. This time




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