14/10/2009

EDGAR ALLAN POE'S SECOND FUNERAL


Edgar Allan Poe has been hailed by some as the genius who began the cult for detective and horror stories that the public still enjoy today. Of his fellowVictorian writers, Conan Doyle was very happy to confess how much he admired Poe' works, especially The Murders in the The Rue Morgue.

An illustration from Murders in the Rue Morgue


Since her teenage years the VV has been intrigued by the works of Poe, but also by his private life ~ especially when learning that he'd married a cousin, Virginia, when she was just 13 years old. Sadly, Virginia went on to die of Tuberculosis at the age of 27, her husband following her to the grave only two years after that, when he was 40 years old, with the causes of his death being variously attributed to alcohol, cholera, or drugs, syphilis, rabies, or murder.


Virginia Poe


But his influence lived on in time, even leading on to several low-budget horror films which were directed by Roger Corman in the 1960's. For many years afterwards these films were often repeated on late night TV. A particular favourite of the VV was The Fall of the House of Usher, a sinister and thrilling tale with the theme of premature burial, when the 'corpse' was really still alive but in a cataleptic state. 


Poster for The Fall of the House of Usher, in which Vincent Price took the lead role.


And thinking now of burial, it seems somewhat fitting that today, some 200 years after his birth, Edgar Allan Poe's funeral was re-enacted in Baltimore's Westminster Hall where, in scenes that could have actually sprung from the writer's macabre imagination, a coffin containing a mannequin fashioned on the man himself processed through the streets in a glass-sided hearse drawn by black horses. 

Mourners who came to pay their respects were even dressed as Victorians, and perhaps some of them also take part in a mysterious ritual in which, every January 19th since the time of the writer's death, a bottle of cognac and three red roses have been placed upon his grave - the original tombstone of which was engraved with the words: Quoth the Raven Never More.





4 comments:

  1. Fantastic post Essie, I loved all them old horror films with Vincent Price. The Raven was my favourite, with Boris Karloff and Peter Lorrie. Glad you wrote about them, I always think of they film when people talk about Poe, I don't mention them in case they think I'm a philistine :-)

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  2. Those old Hammer films were brilliant weren't they George. I absolutely loved them. Used to stay up late on Friday and Saturday nights...it became quite a ritual.

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  3. What a fabulous birthday post for one of my very favourite writers! Hurray.

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