Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy Poe-day!

While the most anticipated 200th anniversary this year is the combined Darwin/Lincoln bicentennial on Feb 12th, they weren't the only famous people that were born in 1809. Today marks the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's birth -- which occurred in Boston -- not a town that one usually associates with the man who became an editor of the Richmond, VA based Southern Literary Messenger and who died in 1849 in Baltimore.

I'm sure that other blogs and newspapers will bring up "The Raven", but Poe was more than a macabre poet and was more sane and rational than the narrators of his fiction and poetry, which many people confuse with Poe himself. So, I present you with other sides of the man that may be new to you.

1) Poe the book reviewer. Here Poe reviews Francis Glass' bizarre "WASHINGTONII VITA" -- a biography of George Washington written in pseudo-classical Latin!

2) Poe the literary theorist. In the "Philosophy of Composition" Poe describes how he wrote -- or at least how he *thought* he wrote -- which may not be the same thing at all -- shades of the debate over whether the cliched "scientific method" actually describes what scientists do in practice. 

3) Poe the biologist! Or at least Poe the biology textbook author --The Conchologist's First Book: or, A System of Testaceous Malacology, Arranged Expressly for the Use of Schools. There's actually a lot of questions about Poe's contributions to this -- apparently he based it on an existing text and was accused of plagiarism.