Preface to Marie Bonaparte's The Life and Works of EdgarAllanPOE: A Psycho-Analytic Interpretation1
In this volume my friend and pupil, Marie Bonaparte, has directed the light of psycho-analysis upon the life and work of a great writer of a pathological type.
This page can be read in German in GESAMMELTE WERKE Vol 16, Page 276
[First published (in French) in Marie Bonaparte's EdgarPoe, étude psychanalytique, Paris, 1933, 1, xi. German original in EdgarPoe, eine psychoanalytische Studie, Vienna, 1934, v.
English translation (by John Rodker) in The Life and Works of EdgarAllanPoe: a Psycho-Analytic Interpretation, London 1949, xi.
A Psycho-Analytical Study of EdgarAllanPoe. American Journal of Psychology, 1920, Vol.
A long, but superficial study of Poe. It is not hard to label many of Poe's writings as sadistic, but the only light the author throws on
this feature is the circumstance that Poe, like millions of other people, spent a few years in an English school and therefore was perhaps beaten in childhood.
couple was childless, but the husband had at least two illegitimate children to provide for. Frances Allan was an affectionate foster-mother to Edgar, but John Allan seems never to have overcome his hostility to him, and the relationship between Poe and his foster-father was later a stormy one. During his boyhood John Allan brought Edgar up strictly and did not spare the rod.
Only once again did Poe approach John Allan for financial help.
After his break with John Allan in the early eighteen-thirties, Poe went to live with his father's sister Maria Clemm.
As a study of the growth of a poet's mind The Life and Works of EdgarAllanPoe is a most convincing and impressive book.
The Life and Works of EdgarAllanPoe. A Psychoanalytic Interpretation
By Marie Bonaparte.
Such confidence can be placed in this book since the author has used an authoritative biography of EdgarAllanPoe, Israfel, by Hervey Allen, for her account of actual events, while Poe's own writings, skilfully edited, offer the associative material.
The elflike actress, Elizabeth Poe, lay dying of consumption in meager lodgings where her three children, Henry, Edgar, and the baby, Rosalie, played.
Frances Allan gave Edgar luxurious food and lodging, a good education, and social connections, but even before her death in 1829 was unable to shield him from the hostility of her husband John Allan.
Then the only resources of Poe and his child wife were Mrs.
First of all there is the fact that the poet was born at a time when his country was faced with two great tasks, the conquest of the new world of machinery and of a whole continent—the
Apropos EdgarPoe, Eine Psychoanalytische Studie von Marie Bonaparte.
After the death of his mother two well-to-do families took care of the two waifs, Edgar entering the house of the merchant Allan.
Mrs. Allan was young and childless, craving love.
Allan now found pleasure in humiliating the abandoned and helpless Poe in every way.
However, as might have been foreseen, Poe could not endure this for long.
The Life and Works of EdgarAllanPoe: A Psycho-Analytic Interpretation.
“However, it was only imaginatively that Poe was to disinter the dead or pseudo-dead; in effect the promptings of his mind filled him with terror.”
In a final section of this book, called “Poe and the Human Soul,” the author draws some conclusions on literature in its function and elaboration.
One doubts whether the general reader or the expert on Poe will be easily convinced of all that the author finds in Poe.
The book represents a huge effort, a virtuoso performance, and should close for a long time the chapter on neurosis in EdgarAllanPoe. It is handsomely printed and carefully presented with many photographs.
EdgarAllanPoe, A Study In Genius.
Krutch in his psychological biography of EdgarAllanPoe has shown that it is not only possible, but has done it in such a manner as to explain many of the
mysteries of Poe's life that have heretofore been shrouded in darkness. Perhaps no American writer has been the subject of more literary and biographical criticism than has Poe. Surely all of this mass of material which has been written regarding him has not been due to any phenomenal rise to fame, the overcoming of some tremendous obstacle, or a life filled with interesting adventure, as has been the case with many other authors, for none of these things has characterized the life of Poe.
The answer is mystery,—the eternal desire to solve the unknown. Poe will never be completely understood by the application of the ordinary tests of literary criticism; by means of the new approach to the problems of his art and personality as made by Mr.
The book is well worth reading, not only because it enlightens us in regard to the character and life of Poe, but because it gives a clue to the cause of so many distorted personalities similar to his own.