Literature

The Functionalist Poe and His Place in the Canon

Reading Edgar Allan Poe when I was about twelve, I wondered why the critics and academics were so mesmerised by a writer who today should be considered a hack (or so I thought as a child). With his reputation grinding at my back as one of America’s premier nineteenth-century writers beatified as part of the American canon, even my adolescent mind wasn’t credulous enough to accept beating hearts and the ape did it as paradigms of American literature. In college I found Poe’s poems, with their uniform stanzas and standard rhymes, to be foppish; treacly imitations in form, greeting cards…

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