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Edgar Allan Poe and the Mystery of the Universe

By Harry Lee Poe

Publication Year: 2012

The popular Poe—The Raven, Tell-Tale Heart, The Black Cat—has inspired a generation of readers long disenchanted with the normative tradition of American literature. But is the popular Poe—incessantly drinking, drug-addicted, and entranced by the terror of death—the real Poe? Harry Lee Poe contends that, for more than two centuries, the great myth of Edgar Allan Poe has damaged both the popular reader's understanding of Poe's corpus and the historian's depiction of Poe's life. Through reviewing his poems and short stories, literary criticism and science fiction, Evermore reveals a Poe who is deeply confounded by the existence of evil, the truth of justice, and even the problems of love, beauty, and God. Here Poe aficionados and casual appreciators of literature alike are invited into a greater understanding of Poe’s most persistent questions and offered a novel approach to reading the American literary icon.

Published by: Baylor University Press

Half Title Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-9

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pp. ix-xvii

This book explores several of the major questions of life that Edgar Allan Poe considered. It does not explore all the questions he asked, nor does it attempt to exhaust the subject on those questions it examines. This book could have explored a single question, but it would have failed because Poe did not have a fragmented ...

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1. The Problem of Edgar Allan Poe

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pp. 1-30

In the popular imagination, Edgar Allan Poe had a tragic life. Many people think of Poe as a figure who brooded over the tragedy of his life, and certainly he had his episodes of despair. The human condition, however, brings tragedy to each of us in our own time and in our own way. This common lot of humanity raises the problem ...

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2. The Problem of Suffering

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pp. 31-58

By temperament and habit, Edgar Allan Poe had a cheerful and optimistic disposition. Like everyone else, however, Poe’s life had highs and lows during which he responded appropriately. During periods of tragedy or loss, Poe experienced bouts with grief. In moments of injustice, Poe expressed righteous anger. On the ...

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3. The Problem of Beauty

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pp. 59-83

The problem of Beauty does not strike the average person as a problem. For an artist who deals with Beauty day in and day out, however, this problem may raise its ugly head. Poe came to deeper and deeper convictions about Beauty over the course of his career. As a boy he assumed Beauty, as his poem “To Helen” suggests. ...

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4. The Problem of Love

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pp. 85-108

The problem of pain and suffering presents a major challenge to monotheism, and Poe felt the problem strongly. On the other hand, Love presents an equally challenging problem for materialism. In a purely material world, it is not difficult to account for pain and suffering, but how do we account for Love? ...

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5. The Problem of Justice

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pp. 109-132

In April 1841 Edgar Allan Poe published the first detective mystery story ever written. In “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” Poe created a form of literature that illuminates in a profoundly subtle way one of the most intriguing philosophical problems in the universe. By the time he wrote the first mystery story, Poe ...

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6. The Problem of the Universe

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pp. 133-163

The problem of the universe may be simply stated: Why is there something rather than nothing? In a letter to George Isbell on February 29, 1848, after delivering his lecture on the universe, but before publishing it as Eureka, Poe gave his simple answer to this simple question: “Because Nothing was, therefore All Things are.”1 ...

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7. Ex Poe's Facto

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pp. 165-176

For many people, the great mystery of Poe’s life surrounds the cause of his death. Dozens of theories have been proposed to explain the circumstances under which he was discovered at a polling place in a state of delirium after several days during which his whereabouts remain unknown. For me, however, the great mystery ...


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pp. 177-213


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pp. 215-222

E-ISBN-13: 9781481300452
E-ISBN-10: 1481300458
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602583221
Print-ISBN-10: 1602583226

Page Count: 231
Publication Year: 2012