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Can A Writer Be a Literary Critic

Inside the Poe House in Philadelphia

Inside the Poe House in Philadelphia

Writer Beware

In my opinion it is perfectly possible for a writer to dabble in literary criticism – after all there is probably nobody around who has a better working knowledge of the subject area. However, it may not be a good idea. This proposition is fueled by a recent visit to Edgar Allan Poe house in Philadelphia, PA. Poe did just that. Not only did he edit literary magazines and write short stories, but also he wrote detailed thoughtful literary criticism of the literary efforts of his peers.

Poe and Griswold

Sometimes they did not like what was written, as was the case with Rufus Wilmot Griswold. Poe and Griswold were literary contemporaries, who seemed to have a mutual distrust of each other. During his lifetime, Poe wrote long insightful treatises on Griswold’s literary achievements. Often Poe was more critical than he was favorable. Griswold returned the favor, but in this case, Griswold outlived Poe and wrote a rather mean and unflattering biography, which tainted Poe’s literary achievements for years to come. Only a century of literary fans has allowed Poe to transcend Griswold’s prison of words and in this case the escape has been very lengthy.

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