I’m a life long Edgar Allan Poe fan. I admire his fiction and his life. My novel Forevermore won the blue ribbon in the Chanticleer International Contest for “Best Historical Mystery,” and I was very proud of that. You can read it for free as the first mystery in my Detective Patrick J. O’Malley series. My current story, Cousins, also about Poe, is on the short list to be in the 2024 list of fiction presented by Strange Horizons Press. I’m also proud of that. However, there are rumblings in the magazines today about keeping Poe and his “dark ethos” away from readers.
In my opinion, Edgar Allan Poe’s stories and his personal character are being slandered once again by many mainstream horror publications that are subscribing to the latest politically correct ethos. Here are the reasons why the grand master’s content is being defamed and stories that attempt to emulate his content and/or show his character are also being dragged through the mud:
1. His use of drugs in his stories resulting in violent acts.
2. His treatment of women (murder and packing the body up inside a wall). Poe marrying his first cousin, Elizabeth Clemm, at age 13.
3. His first person depiction of madmen.
4. His obsession with torture and other inhuman practices.
5. His romanticizing of death and darkly evil supernatural events.
This is, of course, all taken out of context of the era in which he crafted his work. The Romantic Era in the world was one of showing and demonstrating all these things in the most lurid details. Melancholic topics were very popular in the public and Poe knew this. He was, after all, a magazine editor and an author.
It was a case of Poe’s own addiction and possible manic/depression that the critics turned on Poe, especially an editor named Rufus Griswold, who took it upon himself to libel and slander Poe when he died in Baltimore in 1849. Not only that, but he lied about Poe when he practically stole the rights to his work from Poe’s Aunt, Maria Clemm, and Griswold made the money and defamed Poe also, causing other critics to get on the defamation bandwagon.
They don’t call him “divine” anymore.
I do. He gave me courage. He gave me revenge.
Divinity is in the dark and in the light angels.
The freedom to pour out anger, resentment, fear.
That’s complete divinity.
Without this freedom, we become entombed.
As a society, entombed in fear and coddled woe.
Protecting by censoring is not healthy.
Condemning addicts for their acts is fine.
Poe did it. That’s why he’s “divine.”
He condemned himself.
That’s what I did, and many other artists do.
Just give us that divine right too!
Edgar Allan Poe had a life of woe.
A moment in the sun, but that sun faded fast.
Up and down is the story of the world.
Nothing stays “high” forever.
Not fame, not fortune, and not nations.
Certainly not evil or good.
Divine Edgar is my “main man.”
The freedom to purge is artistic bounty.
Given to us by guys like E. A. Poe.
Keep it real, folks. It will always be real.
No matter what you say.
No matter how hard you pray.
In the mind of an artist, it must be that way.
J. Musgrave, 2023
Thanks, and have a great Labor Day Weekend if you celebrate that in your country.
San Diego, CA