Edgar Allan Poe, was one of the most prominent literary figuers of the 19th century. He was a poet, writer, and literary critic. Despite the struggle of his early life, and the unorthodox nature of his writing, his work transcended time and circumstance. So, what was it about his work that appealed to so many and why is it that to this day he remains one of the greatest writers of all time?
To begin, while most authors of his time were too concerened with their stories following the predetermined structure of how the English story should unfold, as well as having said stories present an ethical moral, Poe's work focused on the intricate details of structure, a masterly command of language, and a fresh and unique perspective. The unique structure of Poe's stories for instance, is a compact, thrilling, and horrifying adventure that is meant to be read in one sitting.
Moreover, these stories further pushed the boundaries of writing by providing a first person narritive, however, unlike most stories of the time, Poe did not give the perspective to the hero, nonetheless, he gave it to the outcasts of society, and the maniacal. This not only gave a great insight into the psyche of the criminally insane, but also gave the story over to an unreliable narrator, such as, in "The Tell Tale Heart". This perspective eventually lead to the concept of what is known in contemporary literature as the "Anti-hero".
Poe not only invented the narrative of modern day horror, but he was also the primary influence of the science fiction genre, as shown in, "The Unparalleled Adventure of Hans Pfaall", which did not become wildly popular until the 20th century; as well as, the amateur detective genre in works, such as, "The Mystery of Marie Roget".
Edgar Allan Poe's work may not have earned the acclimation it has today during his lifetime, however, the impact of his work became wide reaching and not solely limited to American literature. It reached Europe and then far beyond, and impacted many movements and genres for decades to come.