The last years of his life were nothing but a miserable picture of despair, hopes, which burst out from time to time, short – time crushes, flushes of alcoholism, constant changes of accommodation. He declaims his “
Edgar Allan Poe’s biography is full of dramatic events and feelings. A man, who loses his parents in the age of 3, a man, who breaks off an engagement with his Richmond beloved (Regan, R, 2005), a man, who loses financial support from his relatives and takes a decision to go to the army is a man, who creates a fabulous world of sophisticated poetry, a mysterious detective story and a laconic, deep, touching short story.
Poetry always appears as something intimate and personal, it is the highest level of literal creating not only in terms of the content, but also in terms of the formal aspect, which actually determines the harmony of the creation itself, its originality and its level of “sophistication”, so to speak. Poe’s poetry is exceptionally touching and heartfelt, for it is saturated with the author’s conception of poetry and its mission: there is nothing more sophisticated and high-toned than the poem itself, a poem, which is nothing else but a poem, a poem, which is written for the poem. A poem is not only a linguistic reflection of the poetic feeling, but also one of the most delicate means to evoke the same poetic feeling in others.
Still Poe didn’t have an opportunity to give his all to his “passion” – poetry. His poetic heritage is rather poor. The late lyrics by Poe didn’t get any brand-new qualities. The diapason of poetic topics is also rather narrow and traditional: love, loss of the beloved, the ideal’s inaccessibility, the fluidity and mortality of all existing in the world, impossibility to express secret thoughts with words. Regarding romantic imagination as something high – souled and exquisite, he still realizes, that it has not only its limits, but also has a quality of running down. Thus, he pays great attention to the formal aspect of the poem, to its structure, music, rhythmic image of beauty, melody – this is his professional, technical and theoretical definition of poetry.
The Poe’s poem doesn’t actually operate with the idea of plot. The best pieces of his poetry do have a strenuous inner dynamic, as a classical example one should take the “Raven”. Eighteen verses of the poem express a gradual, dramatic realization of the hero’s loss, of despair and pain. Raven becomes a symbol of this pain and grief – “Nevermore…” – his constant caw creates a depressing soundtrack to human mourning.
Poe has worked out a complex of methods, which underlain the basis of detective stories. Though, the author “didn’t contribute much to the construction or the content of the detective story” (Stern, P, 1957, p. 26 ), he gave an impulse to develop the genre of the detective novel – Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Hammet, Simenon and their heroes came out, so to speak, of Poe’s detective.
Poe’s stories are logically structured, one will not find there neither scenes of violence nor atmosphere of cruelty.
Among Poe’s masterpieces, “The fall of the house of Usher” and “William Wilson” should be specially remarked for the author’s portrait and psychological skill to depict a deep character with morbid sensitivity and sophisticated intellect. The morbid concentration of the main hero in “The fall of the house of Usher” on his own personality, his inner affections, his disgust to the reality lead in the end to his tragic collapse. Some critics notice hidden motives, which give an opportunity to assume, that Roderick Usher becomes a predecessor of Adrian Leverkuehn, T. Mann’s main character of the “Doctor Faustus.”
“William Wilson” represents a specific variation of the split mind theme. In the name of fame and success, the main hero strangles the voice of his best “me”, he doesn’t listen to the whisper of his own conscience. As the opposite good genius tries to restrain the hero from making the next indign step, the hero kills him – in the same way, as Dorian Gray thrusts a knife into his portrait, which became his own conscience.
Undoubtedly, Poe has become a writer of the worldwide. But there are still so many rousing discussions about Poe’s place in the American literature. Some critics accuse him of incapability to depict life in its “brightness” and “happiness”, he is blamed for the lack of these colors in his heritage. Some even wonder why he hasn’t created a book “for millions”. But…did he have to? Those common accusations have really nothing to do with the genius of his poetry – poetry in prose, poetry in his world-perception. Poe’s genius conducts pioneer tragic tradition, which reflected the contradiction between the American dream and its fulfillment in reality.