aPoe’s Place in the Literary Canon
Notwithstanding his contributions as a literary critic and the originator of the short story, Edgar Allan Poe was considered one of the greatest writers of the American Romantic Period because of the significant contributions to the genres of mystery and the modern detective story. Many scholars of literature ceaselessly search for authors, writers, and literary pieces appropriating a high regard for this art form of the elite. Reasons for this are for study, for pleasure, and even as a model for other, more modern works. Edgar Allan Poe is most, if not all, of what litterateurs are looking for in an author and so he certainly deserves his place in today’s literary canon. If serious writers consider Poe a gold standard in literature, then there is absolutely no reason that college students should think otherwise. Edgar Allan Poe should be included in today’s literary canon because he is a pioneer in literary genre; his critiques are the basis for the development of many literary theories, and because of his significant contributions to the literary corpus.
As a pioneer in literary genre, Poe initiated the evolution of the short story and also the modern detective story. He remains today one of the most popular mystery writers in history, and his contributions to literature and the mystery genre cannot be underestimated. Prior to Edgar Allan Poe, most literature patrons looked down on the dark and gothic prose, in particular, those belonging to the horror and the mystery genre, because of the moods and morals that these evoked. With the emergence of Poe as a mystery and horror fictionist, the genre began to enjoy attention unprecedented in the years prior. Poe was able to give to horror and mystery what Shakespeare gave to poetry and to theater. “Many pieces of literature that deal with death and the gloominess of the world do not always appeal to audiences. However, Poe’s contribution to literature has proven to be loved and appreciated by many over the span of time.” (Rosello) This could be attributed to the techniques used by Poe in both his prose and his literature that stood firm even through the closest scrutiny. Therefore, despite the dark subjects tackled in his pieces, his work remained faithful to the time-respected standards of literature. In addition, Poe is viewed as one of the most important of American authors in the Gothic tradition. While there were many other writers who wrote in this tradition, Poe was able to take the genre and remove from it the sloppiness and inconsistencies found in many Gothic pieces of his time. Poe had raised the bar for this kind of literature by imbuing it with elegance and painful attention to detail and emotions. His desire to use his pieces to convey emotions had even gone into a more personal level as these “reflect the mood and genre he desired to create in his literature conveyed his own character.” (Rosello) This meant that Poe’s gothic pieces were a reflection of his true self and hence, were very honest to the most intimate level, which was often uncomfortable for many writers of the time because most strove to write literature that was as distant to their true selves as possible, or risk having their darkest secrets revealed in their work. “Poe’s writing exemplifies his brilliant imagination through metaphors that describe his life.” (CaryaAcademy) A few examples of Poe’s work that reflected his own personal darkness are “The Cask of Amontillado”, which very accurately conveys they thinking process of the author, “Ligeia”, which mirrors the grief and sorrow of loss which also parallels the experiences of the author, and the popular “The Raven”, which, apart from being a highly critical piece in Poe’s career, also echoed the author’s personal struggles with isolation and intangible fears. Apart from being personal, Poe also allowed his investigative and analytical skills to shape his literature, such as in his...
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