Text: Benjamin F. Fisher IV, “Introduction,” ­Myths and Reality­, Baltimore: The Edgar Allan Poe Society, 1987, p. viii:


­ [page viii:]


Paradoxes and Edgar Allan Poe

The following essays evolve from festivities surrounding the transfer of Sir Moses Ezekiel’s statue of Poe from Wyman Park, where it had long stood, to The University of Baltimore, where The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore is headquartered. The name of that meeting, “Myths and Reality: The Mysterious Mr. Poe,” furnished the title for our book, which includes hard facts and speculative considerations concerning the life and literary career of Edgar Allan Poe. Richard P. Benton’s observations about women in Poe’s life and writings serve as an appropriate opening for Myths and Reality. Edgar Allan Poe and women, in regard to his biography and artistic output, remains a perennial topic for exploration and revaluation. W. T. Bandy’s examination of Dr. Moran’s role during Poe’s final illness, death, and thereafter, scrutinizes several signal myths connected with Poe’s departure from this world. Bandy treads pathways between fact and fiction with sure footsteps, bringing to bear upon his topic many years’ researches into shadowy corners in Poe biography. John Ward Ostrom develops further some realities — chiefly grim types — related to Poe’s literary earnings, which he had previously addressed in Poe Studies (1982). Cliff Krainik’s piece, on the Ezekiel statue, likewise treats what seem almost like myths at times in the creation of this great art work. My own study addresses sources for “The Assignation.”

All of these essays mingle factual with grey areas. In no case, however, does any author avoid telling us when he is guessing, surmising, or hypothesizing. So the Poe case ever moves — in terms of Poe’s own fabricating travels to foreign spots that he never visited, or the composition of the 1831 “To Helen,” or his “solving” the mystery in Dickens’s Barnaby Rudge or in various cryptograms, or his protestations of love to several women after his wife had died, to the most recent theoretical critique of some one or another of Poe’s literary creations. As Poe’s life and art have elicited considerable consensus only to be overturned by numerous divergences, so the individual studies here evince much common ground, but allow for personal opinions’ moving away from such community interpretation. As Poe himself wrote, in “How to Write a Blackwood Article” (which is well-honed parody and more because its author so thoroughly comprehended what he lampoons), “sensations” (myths?) and “things” (realities?) coalesce when literary greatness is all. Deft balancings of myths and realities, as the present book demonstrates, make pursuit of Poesque pathways an ever vital activity, one never ending but ever in process.

B. F. F.  
30 March 1987



This publication is based on lectures delivered at the rededication of the Sir Moses Ezekiel statue of Poe at the Univeristy of Baltimore in 1983.

© 1987 and 1998, by the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, Inc.


[S:1 - MAR, 1987] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Lectures - Myths and Reality - Introduction (B. F. Fisher, 1987)