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Product Details

  • Paperback: 804 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1st edition (November 25, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801857309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801857300
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 2.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #650,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Without warning, without any preliminary fanfare of trumpets, a book has now appeared that towers above others of its kind, a book in which resourceful scholarship and a lucid gift of expression are happily joined. I wish I could recapture all I have recklessly said in praise of other books and concentrate it here.

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About the Author

Arthur Hobson Quinn (1875-1960) is also the author of American Fiction: An Historical and Critical Survey and History of the American Drama. Shawn J. Rosenheim is an associate professor of English at Williams College. He is the author of The Cryptographic Imagination: Secret Writing from Edgar Allan Poe to the Internet, also available from Johns Hopkins.


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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By C. Williams on August 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
As a lifelong fan of Edgar Allan Poe, I admit that I worship at the altar of Poe. Therefore it was a delight to discover this most excellent bio, extensively researched by another worshipful fan (from an earlier era) of American's greatest short story writer. This is a must for your reference library. I read and absorbed every single page. I'm grateful that the author followed his own lifelong passion for Poe and went against the grain of Poe bashing biographers of his time, and produced this work that extols Poe's positive character features while not neglecting the negatives. Compare this bio with other "negative" Poe bios of the past (esp. early 20th century), still available in libraries, and you'll understand why it was such a pleasure for me to find this particular book which provides a more balanced picture of the artist's life and career.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By D. P. Birkett on March 1, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A meticulous and massive work that piles fact upon fact. This is a reprint of a 1941 work, and the author, Quinn, was born in 1875. He is concerned to defend Poe's reputation against charges of immorality. More background about the marriage to Virginia would have been interesting. How common were such marriages in Virginia at that time? Was the full age of 21 claimed on the marriage bond legally necessary? I don't know if Silverman's 1992 biography has this, I might try it, but 750 pages on Poe is enough for now. If you really need to see an exact reproduction of the title page of Poe's textbook of conchology, this is the book for you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Julie Pickett on November 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
I stumbled across Quinn's biography of Edgar Allen Poe while doing research for my Master's thesis on Poe's work. The size of the book is daunting, but I found it amazingly easy to read (yes, it's harder to follow than Dick And Jane, but it's easier to read than a lot of academic writing) and Quinn was incredibly thorough in backing up his contentions.

He follows Poe's life from birth to death, using Poe's work; his critics; letters to, from, and about the man; and numerous other sources to paint a picture of Poe not as an opium-addicted, death-obsessed pedophile, but rather as a writer devoted to literature and his quest to elicit a visceral reaction in his reader, as well as a man devastated by the loss of his teenage wife. (Yes, Virginia was young by 21st-century standards, but Poe didn't live in the 21st century. I seem to recall hearing that Juliet was 12.)

This book may be daunting for the casual reader--804-pages daunting--but if you're looking for a biography that looks under the bed and between the sofa cushions, I definitely recommend this book. Poe will always remain a shrouded figure who died under mysterious circumstances--in large part because the man he trusted as his literary executor betrayed him--but Quinn does an amazing job at fleshing out what was going on in his life and painting as objective and complete a picture as possible.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By David Garcia Pascual on December 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the best biography about Edgar Allan Poe I have ever seen. Meticulous and clear, Arthur H. Quinn take us to the real world that E.A.POE lived and show us with facts that Poe was more than a writer, a Genius.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J. E. Barnes on June 13, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First published in 1941, Arthur Hobson Quinn's critically acclaimed 'Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography' is a dry, strictly academic work which presents its readership with over 700 dense pages containing thousands of thoroughly researched 'hard' facts concerning the life of one of America's greatest literary figures, but which completely neglects to create a vibrant, three-dimensional, shadow-casting portrait of the writer himself.

Throughout the volume, its human subject remains little more than a blank, three-letter sieve endlessly referred to as "Poe": "Poe lived up to his standard...", "Poe signalized his departure from the editorial staff of...", "Poe wrote the critical notices for October and November...", "Poe did not lecture, however....", "Poe was still hearing echoes of his visits to Mrs. Whitman's home..."

The problem, of course, is that, despite the avalanche of facts, many of which are utterly superfluous, the reader comes no closer to gaining an understanding of the man behind them. "Who was Edgar Allan Poe?" is a fundamental question the text never comes close to providing a genuine answer to.

As Quinn's evaluation of Poe's prose and poetry is routinely perfunctory and unexceptional, 'Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography' is a work that few readers, with the exception of committed Poe scholars, are likely to find worthwhile or engrossing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TheGreatGibbs on January 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had to write a paper on Poe's life with loads of primary sources. Though a little old-fashioned, this is the perfect book to do just that.It has family trees, rough drafts of poe's, and pictures. With 700+ words it is lengthy, but if you are looking for scholarly analysis of Poe's life and works, you need this book.
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