Thursday, June 24, 2010

Quote of the Day

"I will add here, and now (Oct. 1st, 1878,) the opinion; formed long ago and still held by me, that Poe was willing--yes, that he coolly planned--to leave behind him the impression (for such as might be glad to receive it) of his having been almost anything or everything that was bad--a malign, unhealthful product of the soil of the evil latter times."***
-George W. Eveleth (writing under the nom de plume of "H.B.W.")
This statement is a postcript to a letter Eveleth wrote to the editor of "Scribner's Monthly" in 1877. As "Scribner's"--perhaps unsurprisingly--apparently failed to publish it, Eveleth sent a copy to Poe's biographer John H. Ingram, with this additional comment. What Ingram made of it is, unfortunately, unknown. Eveleth never completely explained why he was so certain that Poe deliberately orchestrated the legend of his disgraceful personal reputation, but he made similar assertions to other correspondents, including Rufus Griswold (who must have had a lively reaction to the idea.)

Say what you will about Eveleth, he could always be relied upon to give an interesting take on things.

Perhaps I need to follow his lead: Whenever I encounter horrors such as Kenneth Silverman's "Mournful and Never-Ending Remembrance," or Hervey Allen's "Israfel," or, God help us, John Evangelist Walsh's "Plumes In the Dust," I'll simply say, "It's all right, Edgar wanted it this way!"

It would certainly play merry hell with this blog's entire raison d'ĂȘtre, wouldn't it?

***A footnote: The phrase "evil latter times" comes from a 1519 work by Martin Luther, where he declared that the rampant immorality of his era was a sign the Second Coming was near. As strange as Eveleth was, he was far from mad, and all his writings were definitely done for good reasons, albeit ones often known only to himself. I believe he quoted those words quite deliberately. If this is the case, perhaps it's best to not even speculate about what he meant to imply.