Early Review of The Poet Edgar Allan Poe: Alien Angel by Jerome J. McGann

The poetry of Edgar Allan Poe has had a rough ride in America, as Emerson’s sneering quip about “The Jingle Man” testifies. That these poems have never lacked a popular audience has been a persistent annoyance in academic and literary circles; that they attracted the admiration of innovative poetic masters in Europe and especially France—notably Baudelaire, Mallarmé, and Valéry—has been further cause for embarrassment. Jerome McGann offers a bold reassessment of Poe’s achievement, arguing that he belongs with Whitman and Dickinson as a foundational American poet and cultural presence.

Not all American commentators have agreed with Emerson’s dim view of Poe’s verse. For McGann, a notable exception is William Carlos Williams, who said that the American poetic imagination made its first appearance in Poe’s work. The Poet Edgar Allan Poe explains what Williams and European admirers saw in Poe, how they understood his poetics, and why his poetry had such a decisive influence on Modern and Post-Modern art and writing. McGann contends that Poe was the first poet to demonstrate how the creative imagination could escape its inheritance of Romantic attitudes and conventions, and why an escape was desirable. The ethical and political significance of Poe’s work follows from what the poet takes as his great subject: the reader.

The Poet Edgar Allan Poe takes its own readers on a spirited tour through a wide range of Poe’s verse as well as the critical and theoretical writings in which he laid out his arresting ideas about poetry and poetics.

Book Details
$24.95 • £18.95 • €22.50
ISBN 9780674735972
Publication: October 2014
256 pages

 A different take on the man himself, Edgar Allan Poe. In, 'The Poet Edgar Allan Poe: Alien Angel' Jerome J. McGann does not critique or analyze any of Poe's known tales and very few of his poems. There may be brief mentions of Ulalume and Annabel Lee but the main focus lies in Poe's own writings and words taken from his Marginalia 1844 as well as The Philosophy of Composition. These two writings are quoted, analyzed and compared to other works by 19th century greats Tennyson, Keats, Shelley, Longfellow and the like.

If you are looking for a breakdown analysis of Poe's Tales, this is not for you. They are not mentioned here. Instead, it is a talk on themes of Beauty, Romance, Muses, and the use of plot in poetry in Poe's own words. If you want to know what Edgar Allan Poe thought on these topics then it is gripping and fascinating. I enjoyed this aspect of McGann's admiration for the man himself.

I hope readers will enjoy it as much as I have. It was as if you attended a lecture during the nineteenth century by Mr. Poe himself! Now, who wouldn't go to that?

Thank you to Harvard University Press for an early review copy in exchange for my honest review. 

The expected U.S. publication date is October 13, 2004 in Hardcover as well as Ebook.  

For publishing information,  Harvard University Press

To purchase a copy,  Amazon


Hels said…
Your timing is perfect! M.G.Lee said last week that Poe’s historically bitter ties with Boston — his relationship with the city’s literary elite was famously tense — generated discussion leading up to the statue-launching ceremony in that city. What can account for his unpopularity, do you think?
Kimberly Eve said…
Yes, I know what you mean about Poe and his bitter ties with Boston and those literary elite friends but it sounds to me as if his reputation preceded him. Just another one of those myths about Poe that may never be realized! His unpopularity may be given in part to his radical reviews of his friends poetry and to his terrible upbringing in Boston and family losses!
I love Poe. He deserves his place in the American Canon and is still there despite critics!
Kimberly Eve said…
I couldn't agree with you more, Melinda!
WoofWoof said…
The Raven is a fantastic poem, justifiably regarded as a classic. I'm not sure about any of the rest of his stuff though. I have to say that some of his stories do make me feel uncomfortable - eg The Telltale Heart, The Black Cat etc. I feel that there is something evil and corrupt about his imagination. I read somewhere that he might have been involved in genuine murders; it wouldn't surprise me...
Kimberly Eve said…
Yes, The Raven of course! I remember reading The Telltale Heart over twenty years ago in school and being frightened and just loving it! I just love that feeling of being scared, not knowing what's around the next corner. I think that Poe exorcised his own demons, sadness, family loss and grief and personal romantic losses by using his imagination as pure release of all negativity. Not sure about evil and corrupt and I've not heard about any involvement in murders! Poe will forever be an enigma to us all! Thank you for commenting and stopping by! I do love it when you drop in :)
WoofWoof said…
Hi Kimberley. Apparently Poe's own death is a continuing source of mystery! I hope you don't mind me commenting on posts from long ago. I'm slowly working backwards through your fascinating blog (after a break of a couple of years). Everything you write is so interesting.
Kimberly Eve said…
Hi WoofWoof,
I don't mind at all. I am so honored that you visit and take time to read through my articles. I can't thank you enough! I really appreciate it. Please, comment away. Welcome Back, you were definitely missed :) Hopefully, one day Poe's death will be solved. I know I'd love to know what happened.