Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Edgar Allan Poe: The Root of All Horror

The great G.K. Chesterton was a stalwart defender of pulp fiction, but he also dismissively spoke of Edgar Allan Poe as a really “morbid” writer, driven mad by his hatred of poetry. There is no contradiction here. Poe is indeed one of the great pulp authors, but he was also mad.

Poe has long been considered anathema to “serious” study. Perhaps the reason he is so distrusted by the literary establishment is his fatal mixture of vulgar sensationalism and popular appeal. In such stories as The Fall of the House of Usher, he shamelessly utilizes basic thrills to tell a story which doesn’t appear to have some Important Point to make, beyond plumbing the depths of human fear and psychosis.