Thursday, June 3, 2010

Quote of the Day

"The snares and subterfuges he [Poe biographer John H. Ingram] had encountered in his dealing with the ladies who had known Poe, and some who claimed they had, and on whom he was so completely dependent for source material, had kept him walking nervously, as on a knife edge, and had at times driven him quite close to that insanity which he daily feared."
-John Carl Miller, editor of Ingram's correspondence, in "Building Poe Biography"

This statement of Miller's--delivered as a casual aside in the final pages of his book--is actually an astonishing bombshell. Miller admits, as if it was a detail of no consequence, that the women who so eagerly volunteered source material for Ingram's highly influential biography--women whose testimony provided so much of what we think we "know" about Edgar Allan Poe, and who, inadvertently or not, did so much to destroy what was left of his personal reputation--engaged in "snares and subterfuges." Not only that, their ranks included women who lied about knowing him at all! Miller, whose editing and annotating of the correspondence these women had with Ingram did so much to promote trust in them, here conceded they were not to be trusted at all--and that they almost literally drove Ingram mad!

Whom, among Ingram's female "Poe contacts," did Miller have in mind? Sarah Helen Whitman? "Annie" Richmond? Marie Louise Shew Houghton? Elizabeth Oakes Smith? Sarah Elmira Shelton? Stella Lewis? Or simply the whole strange, self-glorifying, mendacious lot of them?

No comments:

Post a Comment