Social Sensitivity

Edgar Allan Poe is a writer often first discovered by readers when they are still adolescents. His stories are seemingly so simple, so direct and straightforward, so little weighted down with philosophical abstractions or social complexities that they are easily readable by junior high students. Moreover, although many of his stories focus on murder, vicious revenge, premature burial, and other violent and nightmarish phenomena, they are usually phrased in such general and abstract terms that they are a far cry from the graphic violence typical of present-day horror films. Thus, instead of creating anxiety and fear in the minds of young readers, they seem to stimulate a pleasurable feeling of admiration for Poe as a writer who can so enthrall and entertain. In fact, many successful writers have said that they first fell in love with literature and decided to write after reading Poe.

However, Poe is not merely a simple writer, one who only has the power to create the delicious but harmless sense of momentary horror. He is a writer who, both because of his skill as a creator of highly polished narratives and his genius at understanding some of the most powerful and deep-seated fears and anxieties of human beings, can, and should be, studied more carefully.

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