POE by William Bittner


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More than any other American, Edgar Allan Poe has long been languishing in the Kraft-Ebbing lab of psycho literary analyses. Now with William Bittner's sturdy, sober, no-nonsense appraisal, he is once more restored to the normalcy of a much-beset, but not necessarily clinically besotted, life. To be sure, the Bittner biography takes note of the essential romanticism: Poe did get a sort of orphan-of-the-storm treatment from his guardian: he did roll up gambling debts at the University of Virginia and was thrown out of West Point; he also drank, told tales and lived a life ill-starred with women, from the widowed mother he lost and the child cousin he married to that bizarre trio, Sarah, Elmira and Annie. Yet he held a responsible job, refined the entire art of criticism and the short story in this country and wrote poetry which has posthumously been ranked with the best of our Golden Age. For Bittner, then, the fashionable diagnosis of Poe as a necrophille, impotent, paranoid, drug addict simply doesn't add up. Incidental revelations the legendary European wanderings cannot be documented one way or the other; executor Griswold sinned against Poe on almost every count; nausea saved Poe from an attempted suicide. Important.

Pub Date: Oct. 4th, 1962
Publisher: Little, Brown-A.M.P.