Thursday, February 24, 2011

Edgar Allan Poe the next new TV Detective?

ABC has picked up a pilot that has Edgar Allan Poe playing detective. Now before I go any further I have to say the concept is not as far fetched as it sounds. After all Poe is recognized not only as the father of the short story but also detective fiction. C. Auguste Dupin first appeared in Poe's Murders in the Rue Morgue and later appears in The Mystery of Marie Roget and the Purloined Letter. Dupin even predated Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and it has been speculated that he was inspiration for the Victorian Sleuth.

But even with that clout behind him, can television effectively depict Poe with his addiction to opium and alcohol? Will they even touch upon his marriage to his cousin Virginia Eliza Clemm? I am a huge fan of Poe's work but I will be the first to admit that Poe's life was complex and disturbed and is hardly prime time fare. Yet even with my doubts I will tune in. Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised.


  1. What opium addiction? Poe wasn't an opium user, let alone an addict.

  2. Granted much is speculation about Poe and much is built on by many of Poe's enemies. Some blame the critic Griswold for spreading the rumors of Poe's use of alcohol and opium, personally I have no doubts about his alcoholism and since opium plays a part in some of his tales, I fully suspect due to Poe's dependence on alcohol that he may experimented and due to opium's highly addictive nature, I think it is safe to say he was chemically dependent.

    The matter of his death may be the rage of speculation, but it does seem to point to the delusional demise of one who has lost his way in the chemical haze of paranoia.

    There is evidence that at one time Poe did experiment with opium with poets Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Poe himself did make one mention of using laudanum. In a letter to Annie Richmond, Poe stated that he had attempted suicide by using laudanum, an opium derivative, both are highly addictive.

    But you are correct that there is no hard evidence that Poe was an opium addict whether Poe was addicted to opium or not, due to his gambling and drinking habits it is pretty safe to surmise Poe had an addictive personality. Personally I believe alcohol was his primary chemical of choice and even though he did go through periods of sobriety he was prone to relapses. In the 1800's alcoholism was not recognized as a disease but as a weakness of the will and thus the fates of alcoholics often were either suicides, asylums or prison due to there not being any effective treatment for the affliction.

    Seeing your profile I can gather your knowledge of Poe is far deeper than mine, I am not out to assassinate Poe, in fact I am a huge fan. But, knowing about chemical dependency and being in recovery for many years, Poe has all the ear markings of a person that suffered under chemical addiction. This doesn't make me feel any less about the man, whose genius was ahead of his time, it just makes him all the more human.