Origins of Poe's critical theory
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was one of the most diverse writers of the 19th century. While his poems and short stories first gained popularity in Europe, his fellow Americans appreciated his sharp essays and merciless literary criticism. His legacy continues until the present day and transcends the borders of literature, influencing writers of both fiction and non-fiction as well as artists and even scientists. Poe himself and many others have often described the literary theory which underlies all of his work, yet less light has been shed upon how that theory was formed. Analysing the writer’s works in conjunction with the various scientific, philosophic and literary material that he is known to have read, Margaret Alterton reconstructs the genesis of the very fundament of Poe’s genius.