Text: Samuel Pennypacker, “A Fresh Discussion of Poe’s Place in Literature,” Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA), February 16, 1899, p. 8, cols. 3-4


[page 8, column 3, continued:]

A Fresh Discussion of Poe’s Place in Literature

Mr. Charles Leonard Moore, of Philadelphia, in a recent paper on Poe, tersely states a situation and indicates the cause for it as follows:

Why is it that America has always set its face against Poe? What defect was there in his life and art, or what deficiency in the American character and esthetic sense, or what incompatibility between these factors in the case, to produce such a result? That to a great extent he is ignored and repudiated is unquestionable. His life has been written and his works edited of late in a spirit of cold hostility. Volumes of specimen selections of prose or verse appear with his work omitted. In those foolish lists of American great men which it was the fashion recently to cause school-children to memorize, he was always left out. Meanwhile, Europe has but one opinion in the matter; and whereas Tennyson is domesticated in English-speaking lands, Poe is domiciled and a dominant force wherever there is a living literature. . . . . There are three excellent ways in which a man can get himself disliked by his fellows: he may stand aloof from them, he may indulge in the practice of irony, and he may be “ever right, Menenius, ever right.” Poe was an offender in all these respects.

Poe’s apparent place among American authors, not his real place, has been assigned to him by biographers, compilers of anthologies and magazine writers who were less concerned about art than they were about gossip. Again, he was a Marylander, not a New Englander. [column 4:] In almost any study of Poe the critic soon drops his work to tell about his habits, a tendency of the average mind of which Byron and Shelley have also been victims. But while there is body enough to English literature to permit a certain amount of waste, we can hardly conceive of the rejection of Shakespeare because of his deer-stealing or of Milton because he borrowed Paradise Lost from Vondel. As Mr. Moore says, Poe is America’s greatest literary artist. Mostly we can see how the rest did their work. The secret is not far out of sight. It is not so in Poe’s case, and America should now be mature enough to get above the gossip mongers, to care for something besides personalities and to accept Poe at his real worth.



Although this article is unsigned, the author is identified by C. L. Moore in his final article in the series “Poe Again,” in the Dial.


[S:0 - PI, 1899] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - A Fresh Discussion of Poe's Place in Literature (S. Pennypacker, 1899)