Edgar Allan Poe gave American writers permission to plumb the subterranean depths of human depravity and transform it into art. This may sound obvious, but it’s worth remembering—on his 208th birthday—that Poe composed his pioneering gothic stories for a Yankee audience. Europeans already indulged in the profane poetry of Charles Baudelaire (Poe’s French translator) and attended the bloody spectacle of Grand Guignol theater so it’s no wonder they embraced the graveyard poet before America, whose prudish shores had never read anything like him.
So John Cusack just had his first onscreen turn as Edgar Allan Poe. And while historical figures being liberally interpreted as action-oriented, larger than life figures is common these days (How many vampires did Abraham Lincoln really hunt?), how much do you really know about Edgar Allan Poe?
Here are 10 factoids from the former head docent of the Edgar Allan Poe cottage. Perhaps they will change your view of Poe… evermore.
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