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Biography - Edgar Allan Poe: The Mystery of Edgar Allen Poe
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Any student of Poe has been inundated with macabre, morbid tales of involving dead women, drug abuse and affairs. What is disregarded by early biographers are the facts between the tales. He crafted stories with careful excellence, depending on technique, and not the lack of sobriety. He drew from his personal life, but also fabricated complex fantasies that became the model for Stephen King, Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and others. His poetry caught the attention of European greats like Charles Baudelaire and Mihaly Babits, who, in turn, translated Poe's works for the world.
We see where Poe lived an, and hear not only from his literary works, but his letters and the writings of those who knew him. We are able to attain a sense that Poe was not a monster only brooding in his woes, but a family man who longed to remain with Virginia, who lived with, as he wrote in "Annabel Lee," "no other thought than to love and be loved by me."
The affect of the tragedies which surrounded him are explored, from his poor relationship with his adoptive father to the many deaths of loved ones, lost to tuberculosis. Many men would have been enfeebled to write, but Poe took his sadness and expressed it as literary art.
I fully recommend "Biography - Edgar Allan Poe: The Mystery of Edgar Allen Poe (A&E DVD Archives)." His life has the legendary elements of scandal and addiction, but to know Poe better, it is important to learn beyond the cliches like "master of the macabre." This DVD does that.
This fast-moving bio partly depicts Poe's life through antique illustrations, etchings, daguerrotypes and book pages, also from modern drawings. His is an unrelentingly sad story.
Abandoned along with two siblings by his actor father (David), Poe's mother, Elizabeth ("Eliza") supported her family by appearing in stage productions until she contracted tuberculosis and died at age 24. The three orphans were adopted by John and Rosalie Allen. Mr. Allan was a successful merchant, yet he was stingy and cold toward Edgar.
Young Poe was sent by Allan to the University of Virginia, then a new roughhouse school. He was given only enough money for tuition and travel, which meant a life of great privation. With little food and no cash for clothing or heat, 17-year-old Poe began what would be a lifelong drinking habit. He ran up an immense gambling debt and joined the Army to escape it.
While he was away, Poe's adoptive mother also died from consumption. John Allen enrolled Edgar at West Point but then refused to pay expenses, so Poe got himself expelled. Rallying from this low point, he travelled to NYC and published some poetry. Prior to Edgar becoming a newspaper editor at age 26, John Allan died. He left Poe out of his will.
Our story continues with marriage to a 13-year-old cousin, Virginia and creation of the short stories and poetry that Edgar Poe is still remembered for. Tragically, Virginia would also succumb after a lengthy battle with TB. This was the final straw that pushed Edgar over the edge. He binged on alcohol, bounced from city to city, staying with tolerant friends and may have near the end lost his grip on reality. Poe died in a Baltimore hospital ward after a lingering coma. He was a few months short of his 41st birthday.
The students seem to lose the idea that there is a person behind the literary work, a person with specific life experiences that shaped the writing. And that's what makes it hard to connect to the work itself for many of these students.
This video bridges this gap between the person and his work and, thus, between today's students and Edgar Allan Poe. The story of Poe's life told in this biography makes him much more real to the students.
I definitely noticed a positive difference in their interpretation of his work after we saw this film. Their essays became more honest, more sincere, and more engaged with the texts. Highly recommended!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love this DVD. I teach American Literature and love using this as a supplement when I teach Edgar Allan Poe stories. A&E Biographies are superb! Read morePublished 11 months ago by Laura
This is a great video for anyone who teaches Edgar Allan Poe! I've used it many times in my classes and would recommend it to any teacher or Poe fan.Published 15 months ago by merryberry
This DVD biography has a tremendous amount of information about Edgar A. Poe and his life. I would recommend this for anyone that is teaching his literary work or just a Poe fan... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Kathleen Koehler
Second year using this video for our 9th grade English class.... We study Poe around Halloween. The biography helps the students to understand how the sadness in his life... Read morePublished on October 26, 2013 by Cathy H