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Poe: A Life Cut Short (Ackroyd's Brief Lives) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 20, 2009
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Peter Ackroyd combines readable narrative and unique observations with a sharp eye for the most fascinating facts of history. Visit Amazon's Peter Ackroyd Page.
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Top Customer Reviews
Poe had a disastrous relationship with his father; was expelled from West Point and starved in such cities as Boston, Richmond, Philadelphia and Baltimore. He eked out a living selling short story classics such as "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" (the first detective story of note);
"William Wilson": "The Imp in the Bottle"; "The Fall of the House of Usher"; "The Tell-Tale Heart" and other masterpieces of the genre. He also wrote classic poems as "The Bells"; "The Raven" and "Ligea".
Poe married Virginia Clemm his 13 year old cousin who died in his arms. He had affairs with many women who were ill and frail. He often courted rich and married women. Poe was a nonbeliever in God; was a drunkard and never held a steady job for very long. He did edit several literary magazines and newspapers. Some people got along with him while several of his associates found him weird, melancholic and morose. He died in Baltimore in 1849 under mysterious circumstances.
Peter Ackroyd, the prolific London biographer, of such figures as Charles Dickens, William Shakeseare and others has done a superficial job in delineating the main events in Poe's life. The book can be read in a few hours containing the barebones account of the tragic poet's lugubriously unhappy life. There is little literary analysis of Poe's books. The work does contain fine photos of Poe and his circle.
Poe is a short book, it does cover the major events of his life in some detail, but not in great depth but I don't think that is its goal. It also doesn't delve deeply into Poe's work and only touches lightly on Poe's major works such as the Raven and The Fall of the House of Usher, but it doesn't have the space to get into the experiences in Poe's life that created these stories or the circumstances that may have influenced their creation. Indeed, there are other biographies that dig into those territories. This Poe is for someone just discovering Poe and wants some basic information on his life, or for someone who wants to be conversant in Poe, or someone who wants a quick refresher course on Poe. For those people this nice little volume is the one to have.
Of course the book is not as detailed as some 4-5-600 page doorstop might be; And there are those who might well wish to read such. But for those of us who just want a brilliantly written, stunning, moving, and deeply insightful overview of a tragic man's life, I suppose this will just have to do.
My wife picked this book up on a recent library trip intending to read it as part of her personal on-going celebration of the 200th anniversary of Poe's birth. The book is slim and pocket sized so I believed that I could take it off her stack, read it, and return it in short order. I was correct in that assumption, partly due to the size and partly due to the writing.
This book begins with the final week of Poe's life and onto his death and burial. Using this device to set the stage the book returns to Poe's origin. The book follows Poe's life chronologically through its' many twists and turns. It is the story of a life, not for the meek. His was a life of tragedy and constant hammer blows of misfortune. Poe's life is more interesting in fat than it is in legend because of its constant revision. Poe routinely spoke and wrote of his life in a calculating manner revising its details, altering the context and meaning to suit his audience. In truth it seems that his life was a story being written and re-written as he lived it. It was filled by a narrator who like in his stories interacts with the reader and the characters in equal amounts. It was filled with darkness, doomed women and relationships, death around every corner, brief periods of light and others of a more constant darkness edging always towards the abyss.
Poe was a gifted talent, a practitioner who worked hard at his craft. His is often credited with being the father of the detective story, science fiction and the greatest American literary talent. This book delves but slightly into Poe's works and his legacy. The focus is squarely upon the man in the black suit with penetrating grey eyes.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very poor quality..... the extent of the damage was not specified in the description.Published 12 months ago by Megan M. Caldwell
An excellent brief introduction to Poe’s life, for those who just want a high level overview. Despite its brevity, Ackroyd isn’t afraid to voice his opinion. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Richard J. Novotney
Ackroyd has clearly not set himself in competition with other biographers of Poe. We are not to expect from his book all there is to be gotten on its subject. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Sam Adams
This is a good, short biography of Poe, but it has a major problem: The print edition contains many pictures of people and locations discussed in the book - but the Kindle edition... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Tom Murry
Peter Ackroyd writes with a great deal of intuition and a fine narrative drive. This is not--and wasn't intended to be--a work of groundbreaking research. Read morePublished on October 21, 2013 by Thomas
As a Poe biographer myself, I found this book to be extremely hearsay based. Lots of guess work by the author on how he felt and acted. Read morePublished on January 19, 2011 by Alysia Johnson
Subsequent to reading Matthew Pearl's 'The Poe Shadow' - an historical novel exploring the untimely death of Poe - I read Peter Ackroyd's brief biography of Poe and it gave me... Read morePublished on November 6, 2010 by A. G. Plumb
Edgar Allan poe is one of the greatest poets and short story writers in American history. And now thanks to this brilliant work, Peter Ackroyd tells the story of Poe's life like... Read morePublished on February 9, 2010 by Bobbie Joe
While I've loved Poe's writings I've really never read anything about his life until this book. While other reviewers have said this information could plainly be found elsewhere, I... Read morePublished on January 21, 2010 by Brian Reaves