Edgar Allan Poe would be 201 today. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Every man is born an original, but sadly, most men die copies.” Lincoln who would come to national prominence after Poe’s death, surely was familiar with Poe’s works. Poe was an original. Although many critics of his time, i.e. Rev. Rufus Griswold, thought him to be an odd and overly analytical literature critic. Griswold who met Poe in 1841, thought they shared a love of literature, but that’s about all they shared. Griswold thought befriending Poe would help his own writing career. Until later in 1841, when Poe wrote his first criticism of Griswold’s work in “Autobiography” – the friendship was over.
In this day of citizen journalism, with blogs, you tube, and all the other social media available, I find it hard to find an original. It’s just so easy to just retweet, cut and paste and just create a copy of others works. I wonder what Edgar would think of all this instantaneous media and news? Would the Griswold vs. Poe feud take place on Twitter? Would their “personal brands” be damaged by being thrown under the bus by one another on TMZ?
The two men would continue to criticize each others work. Phrases such as “hack”, “outrageous humbug” and “lacks independence, or judgment or both” were traded between them and in letters to friends. Griswold would hold the grunge beyond Poe’s death. Griswold’s obituary of Poe would become infamous, as the fans of the first detective novel and the master of the macabre, would forever color Griswold as the villain.
Do you have someone in your life that you’re cordial to in public, but behind their back you slight and criticize? How has society and the implementation of so much technology changed the way people criticize one another?
Until next time, Tim