Edgar Poe and His Critics

This book serves as proof of the fierce loyalty of some of Poe’s closest friends.

Edgar Poe and His Critics offers an interesting look into the posthumous rhetoric that surrounded Poe’s life and times, as well as his literary works. Published In 1860 by Rudd & Carleton (Grand Street, New York City), this small and unassuming book informs readers of the ferocious upkeep of Poe’s good name by those who cared about him. The author of the book, Sarah Helen Whitman, was herself a poet and essayist, as well as Poe’s lover and betrothed for some time, although they were never actually married. More information about Whitman can be found here, at the Edgar Allen Poe Society of Baltimore Website. Before Whitman became involved romantically with Poe, she was a fan of his poems and short stories. This autobiographical fact becomes obvious when reading through Edgar Poe and His Critics, as much of the content of the book is devoted to praising specific aspects pieces of his writing.
Another goal of Whitman’s, with Edgar Poe and His Critics, was to disperse rumors and the assertions of Rufus Wilmot Griswold, a rival poet, who spent years criticizing and degrading Poe after his death. Edgar Poe and His Critics directly challenges a malicious Memoir, written by Griswold, about Poe. The dedication page of Edgar Poe and His Critics specifically mentions the fallacies put forth by Griswold. The strength of the message of Edgar Poe and His Critics lies within the simplicity of materials, typeface and format used to construct the book. The overall effect of the book is completely dedicated to the message of loyalty that it conveys. There are no gilded edges or ornate typography. The binding of the book is modest looking leather. It is clearly a book for a true Poe fan, written by a true friend of Poe. This simplicity of construction enhances the sentiments iterated in both the dedication page in the front, and in the final paragraph. The dedication page acknowledges that one may never be able to fully know the circumstances of Poe’s mysterious life, but it does assert that Poe most certainly had friends during his lifetime and closes with the sentiment,
“These pages are submitted to [Poe’s] more candid readers and critics by One of His Friends.”
The final paragraph, in keeping with the first dedication, acknowledges again that the world may not know all that there is to know about the man and the author, but that “the story of his sad strange life, when contemplated from a new point of view, will be found like the shield of bronze whose color was so long contested by the knights of fable- to present at least a silver lining.”


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