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Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living by…
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Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living

by Paul Collins

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This is a good short biography summarising the life and work of this tortured genius, effective founder of the modern detective genre and populariser of the horror genre. I have read most of his most famous short stories (Masque of the Red Death, Pit and the Pendulum, Fall of the House of Usher, Cask of Amontillado, Tell-Tale Heart, Murders in the Rue Morgue, the Purloined Letter) a couple of his most famous poems (The Raven and Annabelle Lee), and his only full length novel (The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket), but knew only the basic facts about his life. His parents died when he was a small child, and he, his brother and sister were brought up in different families. Poe's "adoptive" father, Mr Allan, never formally adopted him, leaving his legal status as that of an orphan, and refused to support him as he was growing up. Poe's short life was blighted by alcoholism and poverty, despite achieving some literary success in magazines, but which paid a pittance. His home life as an adult was somewhat more stable, and his marriage to his cousin Virginia (whom me married when she was just 13 and he twice her age), and support by his aunt Maria Clemm gave him some periods of happiness. He clearly had a streak of self-destructiveness working against his creativity and his early death at the age of 40 deprived him of the possibility of a longer period of stable creativity in a second marriage to his childhood sweetheart, his wife Virginia having tragically died of consumption at the age of 24. The book finishes with some useful notes and handy recommendations for future reading. ( )
  john257hopper | Jul 31, 2017 |
A bio of Poe written by one of my favorite non-fiction authors!
Everyone knows the highlights of Poe's life- the alcoholism, the poverty, the marriage to his thirteen year-old cousin and the brilliance that was somehow mostly overlooked in his lifetime. He seems like a man who couldn't catch a fair break. But Collins goes through Poe's life with a fine toothed comb, finding obscure works published in magazines, friends who helped Poe in every way they could, and the many many ways in which he was his own worst enemy. A more complete image of the man appears than I'd ever expected, and what seems clear is that Poe was something of a jerk. Though his relationship with his Virginia and aunt was always loving, he habitually spent money desperately needed for food to get himself drunk, and used his position as editor or columnist in various magazines to insult other writers and poets, even his own friends, leading James Lowell, one of Poe's most ardent supporters, to remark, "I have made Poe my enemy by doing him a service."
I was also surprised to learn that many of his works were met with great success in his lifetime, though he never made much money from them due to the low paying magazines that published them and the proliferation of pirated copies.
This is a slim book, just 107 pages, but it's packed with information. ( )
1 vote mstrust | Mar 24, 2016 |
This is a well written brief biography of the legendary poet and author. We are taken through this literary genius's life in all its painful reality and turmoil. It is hard to imagine a more anguished career as his but there surely are many among the unrecognized. In looking at his path it is also hard to imagine a better outcome even had he gotten the rewards and acknowledgement he seemed to pursue. In the arts it seems as much the norm as their fame expands with the passage of their departing. ( )
  knightlight777 | Mar 5, 2015 |
An exceptional short biography of Poe. If you're looking for a good place to start, this is it. A well-rounded and serious read, in signature Paul Collins style, this slim volume manages to do Poe's life and works justice in barely a hundred pages of text. Recommended highly. ( )
1 vote JBD1 | Sep 3, 2014 |
For those interested in a brief and well-written biography of the man, author Paul Collins' "Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living" is a perfect place to start. At less than 120 pages (including a few pages of Notes and recommendations for additional reading), the book's five engaging chapters fly by quickly. By his own admission, this book adds little "unusual or even unique" material to the subject of Poe's often calamitous life, and his strange death, but that's no discredit to Collins -- as one of America's most beloved authors and the widely-acknowledged inventor of the modern detective story, there's already a voluminous trove of scholarly information available about Poe and his work. However, any reader keener to wade rather than drown in Poe's murky pool will be glad for Collins' book. ( )
  RGazala | Sep 1, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0544261879, Hardcover)

Looming large in the popular imagination as a serious poet and lively drunk who died in penury, Edgar Allan Poe was also the most celebrated and notorious writer of his day. He died broke and alone at the age of forty, but not before he had written some of the greatest works in the English language, from the chilling “The Tell-Tale Heart” to “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”—the first modern detective story—to the iconic poem “The Raven.”

Poe’s life was one of unremitting hardship. His father abandoned the family, and his mother died when he was three. Poe was thrown out of West Point, and married his beloved thirteen-year-old cousin, who died of tuberculosis at twenty-four. He was so poor that he burned furniture to stay warm. He was a scourge to other poets, but more so to himself.

In the hands of Paul Collins, one of our liveliest historians, this mysteriously conflicted figure emerges as a genius both driven and undone by his artistic ambitions. Collins illuminates Poe’s huge successes and greatest flop (a 143-page prose poem titled Eureka), and even tracks down what may be Poe’s first published fiction, long hidden under an enigmatic byline. Clear-eyed and sympathetic, Edgar Allan Poe is a spellbinding story about the man once hailed as “the Shakespeare of America.”

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:08 -0400)

Looming large in the popular imagination as a serious poet and lively drunk who died in penury, Edgar Allan Poe was also the most celebrated and notorious writer of his day. He died broke and alone at the age of forty, but not before he had written some of the greatest works in the English language, from the chilling "The Tell-Tale Heart" to "The Murders in the Rue Morgue"--the first modern detective story--to the iconic poem "The Raven." Poe's life was one of unremitting hardship. His father abandoned the family, and his mother died when he was three. Poe was thrown out of West Point, and married his beloved thirteen-year-old cousin, who died of tuberculosis at twenty-four. He was so poor that he burned furniture to stay warm. He was a scourge to other poets, but more so to himself. In the hands of Paul Collins, one of our liveliest historians, this mysteriously conflicted figure emerges as a genius both driven and undone by his artistic ambitions. Collins illuminates Poe's huge successes and greatest flop (a 143-page prose poem titled Eureka), and even tracks down what may be Poe's first published fiction, long hidden under an enigmatic byline. Clear-eyed and sympathetic, Edgar Allan Poe is a spellbinding story about the man once hailed as "the Shakespeare of America." --… (more)

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