Edgar Allan Poe is one of my favourite writers. He is one of the only authors whose catalogue of work I have read in its entirety, and one of the only ones I often keep going back to.
I fast-tracked most of my English courses (and some Fine Art) while in high school. Meaning I took everything a year, to a year and a half ahead of the rest of my grade. I did this because I wanted to fit in as many arts courses as possible, and my school had advanced English and creative writing. English was mandatory, creative writing was an elective. So while my others opted for free periods, I spent my time in class or at the library studying Poe, Goethe and Blake. A time-turner really would have come in handy, considering I was also working 24 hours a week at this time as a coffee wench.
There were times when I hated being the youngest one in the class, but I also loved it, even though I did come up against some resistance from a few teachers along the way who thought I was “too young for the material.” I remember specifically getting into an argument with my grade eleven teacher who thought I was too young to understand Macbeth (then I would have been just 16). She never truly elaborated on her reasoning, I remember a lot of “because” in the conversation. As punishment for me talking back to her, I had to write an extra essay on the different types of tragedy in Macbeth or something of that nature. I remember her comment on the paper was so flippant and along the lines of “Best of luck with Hamlet”, which was the Shakespeare play on the grade twelve reading list.
I never understood the “too young for the material” remark, as I’m a firm believer one is never too young for anything if the subject is explained properly, and questions are allowed. Do I think you may have a different understanding reading something at 15 then you do at say 25, 40 or 50, etc? Sure. But that doesn’t mean the first time you read it means anything less than the last. If anything it provides more layers.
I digress. Back to Poe.
I first read Poe at the start of high school, and every time I have read his work since I’m finding new things, catching new references and still having that feeling I did the first time I read anything by him – a bit of awe mixed with sadness.
It’s the 201st anniversary of his birth today, and I wish there were more clips on the web besides The Raven. Alas…
And speaking of literary greats…thought this was rather interesting.