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date: 23 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This essay proceeds chronologically, describing and evaluating noteworthy book-length biographies of Poe, from William Fearing Gill to James Hutchisson. The quality of these biographies ranges from the problematic (especially Woodberry, Allen, and Krutch) to the preeminent (especially Quinn, Thomas and Jackson, and Silverman). Discussions of the biographies include such matters as accuracy and insight, style and pace, and research and regard. Cruxes include Poe’s drinking, Poe’s sexuality, Poe’s will, the conclusion of Poe’s Pym, and the value of Poe’s Eureka. Though we never finally really know Poe, we may, by reading and rereading the best of these biographies, approach him more closely than we have approached him before.

Keywords: Edgar Allan Poe, appreciation, authority, biography, narrative, sympathy

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