|—||Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog.|
|—||Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time|
|—||Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin|
I said, I am a desert island. It was not what he had in mind.
This quote, taken out of context, is the most frequently shared Poe meme found on the internet and on Facebook.
Illustration by 2headedsnake
It is quoted from a long letter written by Edgar Poe to George W. Everleth, on January 4th, 1848. The letter, which is a reply to a letter Everleth wrote in July, is primarily business-oriented, and attempts to “catch up” Everleth on a number of questions he obviously asked Poe. One of which was with regard to Poe’s health, where Poe responds, “4 — My health is better — best. I have never been so well. “The two-page letter then proceeds to discuss other business (including a frustrating charge of “forgery” and how Poe should confront the matter), and then Poe attempts to illuminate, in some detail, by way of explanation, Everleth’s query: “10 — You say —”Can you hint to me what was the terrible evil” which caused the irregularities so profoundly lamented?” It is in this answer the quote is pulled. Poe describes the profound depression and anxiety of his wife’s illness and death, and his fight with alcohol during that period.Poe writes: “Yes; I can do more than hint.
This “evil” was the greatest which can befall a man. Six years ago, a wife, whom I loved as no man ever loved before, ruptured a blood-vessel in singing. Her life was despaired of. I took leave of her forever & underwent all the agonies of her death. She recovered partially and I again hoped. At the end of a year the vessel broke again — I went through precisely the same scene. Again in about a year afterward. Then again — again — again & even once again at varying intervals. Each time I felt all the agonies of her death — and at each accession of the disorder I loved her more dearly & clung to her life with more desperate pertinacity. But I am constitutionally sensitive — nervous in a very unusual degree. I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.
During these fits of absolute unconsciousness I drank, God only knows how often or how much. As a matter of course, my enemies referred the insanity to the drink rather than the drink to the insanity. I had indeed, nearly abandoned all hope of a permanent cure when I found one in the death of my wife. This I can & do endure as becomes a man — it was the horrible never-ending oscillation between hope & despair which I could not longer have endured without the total loss of reason. In the death of what was my life, then, I receive a new but — oh God! how melancholy an existence. “
Poe wraps his letter to Everleth up with a fierce declaration of his future success (especially monetarily), in business as his own publisher with his dream-project, The Stylus magazine.
Writes Poe: “And now, having replied to all your queries let me refer to The Stylus. I am resolved to be my own publisher. To be controlled is to be ruined. My ambition is great. If I succeed, I put myself (within 2 years) in possession of a fortune & infinitely more. My plan is to go through the South & West & endeavor to interest my friends so as to commence with a list of at least 500 subscribers. With this list I can take the matter into my own hands. There are some few of my friends who have sufficient confidence in me to advance their subscriptions — but at all events succeed I will. Can you or will you help me? I have room to say no more. “
In context, this popular Poe Quote reveals his greatest heartbreak, that nearly pushed him emotionally over the edge. It must never be mistaken for a summation of who and what the man was, during the entire of his brief forty years on the planet. -Mark Redfield
|—||Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White (via fromliterature)|
“There are no longer simple tales with quests and beasts and happy endings. The quests lack clarity of goal or path. The beasts take different forms and are difficulty to recognize for what they are. And there are never really endings, happy or otherwise. Things keep overlapping and blur, your story is part of your sister’s story is part of many other stories, and there in no telling where any of them may lead. Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon, or a wolf and a scarlet-clad little girl. And is not the dragon the hero of his own story? Is not the wolf simply acting as a wolf should act? Though perhaps it is a singular wolf who goes to such lengths as to dress as a grandmother to toy with its prey.”
-The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)