The passages that follow come from SparkNotes’ page on the works of Poe:


“His name has since become synonymous with macabre tales like “The Tell-Tale Heart,” but Poe assumed a variety of literary personas during his career.The Messenger—as well as Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine andGraham’s—established Poe as one of America’s first popular literary critics. He advanced his theories in popular essays, including “The Philosophy of Composition” (1846), “The Rationale of Verse” (1848), and “The Poetic Principle.” In “The Philosophy of Composition” Poe explained how he had crafted “The Raven,” the 1845 poem that made him nationally famous. In the pages of these magazines, Poe also introduced of a new form of short fiction—the detective story—in tales featuring the Parisian crime solver C. Auguste Dupin. The detective story follows naturally from Poe’s interest in puzzles, word games, and secret codes, which he loved to present and decode in the pages of the Messenger to dazzle his readers. The word “detective” did not exist in English at the time that Poe was writing, but the genre has become a fundamental mode of twentieth-century literature and film. Dupin and his techniques of psychological inquiry have informed countless sleuths, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe.”

“Gothic literature, a genre that rose with Romanticism in Britain in the late eighteenth century, explores the dark side of human experience—death, alienation, nightmares, ghosts, and haunted landscapes. Poe brought the Gothic to America. American Gothic literature dramatizes a culture plagued by poverty and slavery through characters afflicted with various forms of insanity and melancholy. Poe, America’s foremost southern writer before William Faulkner, generated a Gothic ethos from his own experiences in Virginia and other slaveholding territories, and the black and white imagery in his stories reflects a growing national anxiety over the issue of slavery.”

“In the spectrum of American literature, the Gothic remains in the shadow of the dominant genre of the American Renaissance—the Romance. Popularized by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Romantic literature, like Gothic literature, relies on haunting and mysterious narratives that blur the boundary between the real and the fantastic. Poe’s embrace of the Gothic with its graphic violence and disturbing scenarios places him outside the ultimately conservative and traditional resolutions of Romantic novels such as Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables (1851).”

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