Midnight Dreary: The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe

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9780813526058: Midnight Dreary: The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe

Examines the last days of the author's life and his mysterious death in Baltimore

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About the Author:

John Evangelist Walsh is the author of more than a dozen books of history and biography, includingDarkling I Listen: The Last Days and Death of John Keats.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A ripping, gripping investigation of the puzzling, much-debated circumstances surrounding the death of the great 19th-century writer, poet, and critic. It is all too fitting that Poe, the inventor of the detective story, should have met with an uncommon death. He was traveling from Richmond, Va., to New York when he disappeared for almost a week, turning up at last in Baltimore, blind drunk and near death. Taken to the hospital, he died a few days later, never revealing where he'd been or what had occurred. There are several commonly accepted explanations for what really happened. One holds that Poe reverted to tippling from and went on a mammoth bender. But as Edgar-winning literary detective Walsh (for Poe the Detective, not reviewed) notes, Poe had just signed a temperance pledge in order to please his new fianceand was traveling north to earn much-needed money. While he might not have honored the letter of his pledge, he was unlikely to fall so extravagantly off the wagon. The other, more regardedthough more incredibleexplanation, cited by most biographers and even poet Harte Crane in ``The Bridge,'' is that Poe was press- ganged or ``cooped'' by villainous ward-heelers, drugged, and taken from polling booth to polling both to vote multiple times in a congressional election. Walsh handily demolishes this hypothesis as well. His own account of what transpired is a clever weaving together of many disparate strands. Unlike the solution to Poe's ``The Purloined Letter,'' the evidence here is not hidden in the open. With the little he has to work with, Walsh has to make a few assumptions, suppositions, contradictions of the records, even leaps of faith, but he is still able to build a case that is both persuasive and literarily elegant. An utterly engaging and original work of detection. (17 b&w illustrations) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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