Poe the feminist?

412yfyby30l__sl500_aa240_This seems to be a good year for anniversaries of celebrated people – Darwin, Tennyson and Edgar Allen Poe (200 years old on Monday)  spring to mind. Radio 3 is running a series on “Loving The Raven”, about Poe’s work. I’ve just listened to one (they’re very short) which features Joanne Harris talking about Poe’s women. Like so many nineteenth-century male writers, Poe seems to objectify and aestheticise the beautiful corpses of young women (and is even said to have inspired Jack the Ripper). Harris has always been interested in Poe, with his gothic sensibilities and gruesome accounts of miserable lives and painful deaths. “Tales of Mystery and Imagination” is certainly a book not to be missed, but it does appear rather misogynistic. Reading it in conjunction with biographical details, Harris argues that he feels abandoned and deserted by women (his mother and wife who died), and that “death is the maiden” for Poe. Life may end, but art goes on – stories continue forever. You can listen to the programmes here.

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