The Mind Of Edgar Allan Poe

Marilynne Robinson praises his idiosyncratic brilliance, claiming the long prose poem about cosmology he wrote in the last year of his life, Eureka, was “so full of intuitive insight that neither his contemporaries nor subsequent generations, at least until the late twentieth century, could make any sense of it”: Its very brilliance made it an object … Continue reading The Mind Of Edgar Allan Poe

The Mysterious Death Of Edgar Allan Poe

Natasha Geiling reminds us that earlier this month in 1849, the writer was found “delirious and dressed in shabby second-hand clothes, lying in the gutter” in Baltimore. He died a few days later – and we still don’t know why, exactly. Geiling walks us through a few of the theories surrounding Poe’s death, including the notion it might have … Continue reading The Mysterious Death Of Edgar Allan Poe

When Edgar Allan Poe Looked Beyond The Stars

Eliza Strickland revisits his long prose-poem about the origins and fate of the universe, Eureka, which includes “a spookily intuitive description of the Big Bang theory more than 70 years before astrophysicists came up with the idea”:   Scientists who have read Eureka in the decades since have justly called attention to errors in other parts … Continue reading When Edgar Allan Poe Looked Beyond The Stars

The Un-tortured Artist

Harold Bloom once snarkily quipped that John Updike was “a minor novelist with a major style.” After reading Adam Begley’s biography, Updike, Daniel Ross Goodman seems to agree, noting the writer’s “lack of intense passion.” He speculates the deficit “was because Updike did not experience the deep suffering of many other literary geniuses”: Updike was not forced to labor … Continue reading The Un-tortured Artist

A Short Story For Saturday

A passage from Edgar Allan Poe’s disturbing 1838 tale, “A Predicament“: Leaning upon the arm of the gallant Pompey, and attended at a respectable distance by Diana, I proceeded down one of the populous and very pleasant streets of the now deserted Edina. On a sudden, there presented itself to view a church—a Gothic cathedral—vast, … Continue reading A Short Story For Saturday

An Imposter’s John Hancock

“Joseph Cosey,” the favored alias of autograph forger Martin Coneely, comes to life in a 1956 New Yorker profile: From the early thirties until shortly after the Second World War, [Cosey] papered the country with his handiwork—forgeries predominantly of Lincoln, but also of Franklin, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Baker Eddy, and a score of other … Continue reading An Imposter’s John Hancock

A Collaborative Classic

Google resurrects six famous authors – Shakespeare, Dickens, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Poe and Dickinson – for a fun writing program. So what happens when you plug in the first paragraph of Moby Dick? It turns out even the Great American Novel isn’t safe from edits. Dostoyevsky made the first change in my document, rewriting the opening line: Next … Continue reading A Collaborative Classic