- From The Guest Editors
The idea was to go up the coast by Poe city. So, the four international Poe conferences that the Poe Studies Association has sponsored have been held in Richmond (1999), Baltimore (2002), Philadelphia (2009), and New York City (2015). Poe grew up in Richmond, edited the Southern Literary Messenger there, and returned there at the end of his life. He lived in Baltimore early in his career, writing poetry and fiction, and he later died there. He enjoyed six years of exceptional productivity in Philadelphia, where he wrote many of his classic tales, creating the modern detective story. And he published "The Raven" while in New York City, winning the greatest acclaim of his lifetime. The Richmond Poe conference yielded an edited volume—Poe Writing / Writing Poe—and the Philadelphia Poe conference yield two edited volumes—Poe's Pervasive Influence and Deciphering Poe.1 This special edition of the Edgar Allan Poe Review includes essays chosen on the theme of the varied influences on Poe.
The Fourth International Edgar Allan Poe Conference was held at the Roosevelt Hotel, on East Forty-Fifth Street at Madison Avenue in New York City, February 26 through March 1, 2015. The event included 180 attendees from twenty-four countries. At most times during the day, there were four or five sessions offered, for a total of fifty-two, featuring 148 papers. Session titles ranged from "Common Sense, Romance, and Nostalgia" to "Anxiety and Confusion," and these papers offered a range of insight, revelation, and provocation. The sessions were complemented by a wonderful opening reception and a sumptuous banquet, capped by the Keynote Address by J. Gerald Kennedy. Related events were ongoing Poe-related sales by the Poe Museum Gift Shop and Scholar's Choice, a presentation about Poe's Lower Manhattan, and a visit to the Poe Cottage. As has been the case at every Poe conference, it was wonderful to see the scholarly Poe community gathered together.
The eight essays drawn from the conference and presented here are organized around influence—for the first seven essays, influence on Poe, and for the last essay, Poe's influence. Gina Claywell, in her opening essay, adumbrates the influence of West Point on Poe, especially concerning his 1831 Poems. She offers [End Page vi] many correspondences, involving the dramatic features of the place and the distinct hierarchy of the Academy itself. Although foster father John Allan did not provide Poe with sufficient resources at West Point, Poe evidently found his experience there to be an abundant resource for his work. Furthermore, Alexander Hammond finds the presence of British publisher Henry Colburn and his "Silver Fork" novels in Poe's "Folio Club" tales. Clearly, Poe was ambivalent about literary marketplace success, and many of his stories use satire to unmask the puffery and deceit that sometimes helped promote an author's popularity.
British influence is again evident in Janet Chu's study of the stylistic techniques of Poe's women-centered tales. Poe was especially indebted to the work of rhetorician Hugh Blair. To strengthen the terror in his work, Chu argues, Poe fostered a style of distance through periodicity, cataphasis, and parenthesis, and to increase the horror, he relied on a style of distinctness through similes and metaphors, superlatives, and intensifiers. Chu ably demonstrates the patterns, observing that Poe's stylistic skill grew over time. Then, shifting our attention from British to French influence, Carole Shaffer-Koros focuses on Eugene Sue and his novels Mysteries of Paris and The Wandering Jew. She highlights the facility of Poe in French and that of Sue in English. And through a close reading of Poe and Sue, she argues for a mutuality of influence.
Susan Elizabeth Sweeney proposes the influence of early photography on Poe's masterpiece "The Black Cat." Relying on textual and historical evidence, she contends that this renowned tale is a parody of the process of making a daguerreotype. Accordingly, Poe illuminates human darkness through an extended optical allusion. Heyward Ehrlich offers a study of the influence of Nassau Street, the publishing center of New York City in Poe's time. We accompany Poe up Nassau Street...