More on Baltimore later today. For now, some Poe news items.
Peter Ackroyd's new bio, Poe: a Life Cut Short, comes out in the UK next week and in the States in March. I haven't received a review copy yet, but I'm working on it. Here's a review in the Guardian by Hilary Spurling:
Child of a couple of strolling players - very young, semi-destitute, both already incubating TB - the infant Edgar was farmed out first to grandparents and later to a nurse who dosed him and an infant sister with laudanum and gin. His
biographer traces Poe's fictional preoccupations - the black holes, windowless cells and narrow coffins, the shrouded or chained bodies interred alive in graves and jails - back even before birth to malnutrition in his mother's womb, where he must have known in fact 'the perils of a confined space, in which a victim lays panting'.
And Mark Redfield, whom I met at in Baltimore (and with whom I hope to have a follow-up interview
) has made a film of Poe's last days, The Death of Poe, and is soon to begin filming an adaptation of "The Tell-Tale Heart." You can read about (and see photos of) this year's birthday festivities at his film's website (just scroll down).
And I forgot to post this review of Ackroyd's new bio from Sam Leith in the Spectator which delves into Poe's tomahawk-style criticism:
Even though, contrary to myth, he was considerably acclaimed during his lifetime, Poe spent most of his days in abject poverty and a positive rapture of unsuccess. He took on editorships of literary magazines and, falling into drink, lost them. He got posts as a critic and, incensed at the success of those he knew to be his inferiors, set about denouncing them. Longfellow and James Russell Lowell came in for literary cudgellings; others for the more ad hominem kind. Of the magazine editor Lewis Gaylord Clark, he wrote: ‘an apple, in fact, or a pumpkin has more angles . . . he is noticeable for nothing in the world except for the markedness by which he is noticeable for nothing.’ He rounded off a screed of insults to another writer, Thomas Dunne English, with the observation that ‘he exists in a perpetual state of vacillation between moustachio and goatee’.