Undine’s Fab Five: One of the Greats of American Literature, a Pair of Conspirators & More

Edgar Allan Poe in an original daguerreotype taken by Edwin H. Manchester, 1848.

Edgar Allan Poe in an original daguerreotype taken by Edwin H. Manchester, 1848.

This is the seventh part in our weekly Fab Five Series, where I ask other bloggers, writers, podcasters and friends to give their five favorite historical figures. The criteria is up to them…so is the work!

Undine here. I am the author of the blogs Strange Company and the World of Edgar Allan Poe. I love history, particularly in all its odder manifestations, and I love making lists, so the Great Yesterday Unhinged Challenge was virtually irresistible to me.

I used no particular “rule” in selecting my personal Historical Fab Five. These are all very different people who, for their own differing reasons, happened to arouse my curiosity, endear themselves to me, impart important lessons to me…or simply amuse me. In one way or another, they’ve all meant something vital in my life.

So, let the parade begin!

1. Edgar Allan Poe. He is more than a great writer, he is a great thinker, who is sadly underrated as a scientific philosopher. His more esoteric writings, such as “The Domain of Arnheim” and “Ulalume” contain spiritual insights that are both profound and, once you grasp what he is trying to communicate, easily accessible. He was not a writer who talked “down” to his audience; rather, he sought to bring us up to his level. And “Eureka” is the only book I have ever read that has truly helped me make some sort of sense out of this seemingly utterly nonsensical universe of ours. For that alone, I will always feel a deep sense of gratitude towards him. On a merely aesthetic level, he wrote some of the most musical, bewitching poetry and prose works in modern English, and his critical insights played a key role in the development of American literature.

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