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200 × 130 × 12 mm
192 pages
28 illustrations
01 Sep 2009
Critical Lives

Edgar Allan Poe Kevin J. Hayes

The life of Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) is the quintessential writer’s biography – great works arising from a life of despair, poverty, alcoholism, and a mysterious solitary death. It may seem like a cliché now, but it was Poe who helped shape this idea in the popular imagination. Despite of – or inspired by – his many hardships, Poe wrote some of the most well-known poems and intricately crafted stories in American literature. In Edgar Allan Poe, Kevin J. Hayes argues that Poe’s work anticipated many of the directions Western thought would take in the century to come, and he identifies links between Poe and writers and artists such as Walter Benjamin, Salvador Dalí­, Sergei Eisenstein and Jean Cocteau.

Written in an approachable, jargon-free style, Edgar Allan Poe will appeal to all readers interested in biography, literary history, American culture and modern thought.

‘The biography possesses an engaging style, and it is both well researched and scholarly while simultaneously accessible to a broader audience. Hayes is concise but judicious in his critical analysis of Poe's individual works within their historical context . . . Haye's biography is highly readable, richly informative, and well illustrated . . . freshly original . . . I highly recommend this book.’ — The Edgar Allan Poe Review

‘This contribution to Reaktion's Critical Lives series fills the significant need for a well-researched, short biography of Edgar Allan Poe . . . Hayes has produced an excellent short biography that students, scholars, and Poe's many fans will all find to be an accurate and illuminating introduction to the author's life and work.’ — Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

‘Hayes does a superb job detailing the impact Poe made outside of his native land, specifically in France, where writers like Charles Baudelaire found in Poe the model for his emerging experiments in symbolism . . . though he acknowledges Poe’s flaws, the portrait he paints of the misunderstood writer as a groundbreaking artist is compelling.’ — SimplyCharly.com

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Kevin J. Hayes is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma, currently living and working in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of many books including The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson (2008), Edgar Allan Poe (Reaktion, 2009), George Washington: A Life in Books (2017) and Herman Melville (Reaktion, 2017).

1 The Contest
2 The Birth of a Poet
3 The Gothic Woman
4 Making a Name
5 From Peeping Tom to Detective
6 The Tourist’s Gaze
7 The Narrow House
8 The Most Noble of Professions
Selected Bibliography
Photo Acknowledgements