14/10/2009

EDGAR ALLAN POE'S SECOND FUNERAL


Edgar Allan Poe has been hailed by some as providing the foundation stone for many detective and horror stories that prove such a popular genre now. Of his fellowVictorian writers, Conan Doyle was happy to confess  how much he admired Poe' classic works, especially The Murders in the The Rue Morgue.

An illustration from Murders in the Rue Morgue


In her teens, the VV was intrigued by Poe; not only his work, but his private life - soon coming to learn that he married a cousin, Virginia, when she was 13 years old, that Virginia then died of Tuberculosis at the age of 27, that her husband died only two years after that when he was no more than 40 years - his death attributed to various things, whether alcoholism, cholera, drugs, syphillis, rabies, or, perhaps, even murder!


Virginia Poe


But the VV's obsession was truly forged by the spate of low-budget horror films directed by Roger Corman in the 1960's, which were often repeated on late night TV over the following years. A favourite was The Fall of the House of Usher, a sinister and thrilling tale which revolved around premature burial  - when the 'corpse' was really still alive but in a cataleptic state. 

Vincent Price took the lead part in that film, hamming it up quite wonderfully.




With that particular story in mind it seems somewhat fitting that, 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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