I’m on a Edgar Allan Poe inspired road trip down to Virginia and Washington DC. This morning, my intrepid friends from Woodbridge, Virginia, drove me down to Richmond to visit the Poe Museum. There was an amazing amount of Poe-phernalia, a lovely Poe-ish garden and an exhibit of James Carlings 1882 illustrations of ‘The Raven.’ The images were fantastic in every definition of the word.
conceived or appearing as if conceived by an unrestrained imagination; odd and remarkable; bizarre; grotesque: fantastic rock formations; fantastic designs.
fanciful or capricious, as persons or their ideas or actions: We never know what that fantastic creature will say next.
imaginary or groundless in not being based on reality; foolish or irrational: fantastic fears.
extravagantly fanciful; marvelous.
incredibly great or extreme; exorbitant: to spend fantastic sums of money.
Yes, the expensive definition applies because the wonderful James Carling book is long out of print and there’s very little hope of me finding a copy without a huge infusion of cash. Oh, well… I will have to pacify myself with a paperback of photos of Poe’s life, family and memorabilia in Richmond.
Did I learn anything about Edgar Allan Poe? Yes, definitely. Anything about monsters — I’m not sure, yet. Poe had a hard life and his conflicts with the conventions of his time and place made him an outsider from the start.
His parents were actors. His mother received great reviews, but his stuttering, line-dropping dad, was a failure on the stage and left his wife with three small children. When she died of TB at 24, her children were sent to three separate families. Edgar grew up in the home of a wealthy Richmond family.
He was in the family, but never truly a part of it — an outsider, growing accustomed to the trappings of a gentlemen without the means to maintain the lifestyle. He lived, never quite belonging, to the smart literary set in New York or the gentry in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Richmond. All the while, he was determined to make a living at writing!
This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!
Lots to think about in Poe-land!