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PN Review 276
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This article is taken from PN Review 61, Volume 14 Number 5, May - June 1988.

The Nightmare of Edgar Allan Poe John Heath-Stubbs

It is a pleasure for me to visit again this great city of New York and an even greater pleasure, as well as a privilege, to have been asked to speak in this beautiful cathedral of yours. The subject of Edgar Allan Poe has been assigned to me and this is fortunate, for among all the poets who are commemorated here, it is Poe alone of whom I can claim to have more than a superficial knowledge. Perhaps you are thinking that that is because I am an Englishman, for I believe it has sometimes been said that Poe occupies an anomalous place in the American tradition, that his influence has been greater in Europe than in his own country, and that his reputation outside the United States is excessive. I do not subscribe to this view of Edgar Allan Poe. I think that no other country but America could have produced this writer. It is perhaps true that he was the first American poet to have a wide-reaching influence outside the land of his birth. As for his Tales of Mystery and Imagination, they have always been popular in England. Indeed, when one first comes across them as a schoolboy, and not in class, at the age of nine or ten, one is not conscious that one is reading 'literature', for they are simply exciting and frightening stories, like the detective stories of Sherlock Holmes, or on a lower level, the stuff one reads in horror comics. But ...

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