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Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American poet, short story writer, editor and critic and one of the leaders of the American Romantics. He is best known for his tales of the macabre and his poems, as well as being one of the early practitioners of the short story and a progenitor of detective fiction, as well as crime fiction in the United States. He is also often credited with inventing the gothic fiction story. Poe died at the age of 40, the cause of his death was the final mystery. His exact burial location is also a source of controversy.
His legacy is abundant in modern pop culture. It is much alive in the city of Baltimore. Even though Poe spent less than two years there, he is now treated as a native son. In 1996, when NFL football arrived, the team took the name Baltimore Ravens, in honor of his best known poem. The team’s three “winged” mascots were named Edgar, Allan, and Poe. The television show Homicide: Life on the Street, set in Baltimore, made reference to Poe and his works in several episodes. Poe figured most prominently in an episode in which a Poe-obsessed killer walls up his victim in the basement of a house to imitate the grisly murder of Fortunado by Montressor in “The Cask of Amontillado”. In a disturbing scene near the end of the episode, the killer reads from the works of Poe as a dramatic effect to increase the tension.
But Poe’s vast influence over pop culture does not end with Baltimore. Poe’s image, with his weary expression, piercing eyes and tangled hair, has become a cultural icon for the troubled genius. His face adorns the bottlecaps of Raven Beer, the covers of numerous books on American literature as a whole, and is often stereotyped in cartoons as “the creepy guy”. In 1967, Poe appeared as part of the backdrop crowd of The Beatles’ immensely popular album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. In one of their songs, I Am the Walrus, the lyrics include “man you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe.” Besides the Beatles, numerous popular movie makers and rock stars have incorporated Poe or Poe’s works into their works. The Lemony Snickett books have Mr. Poe with his children Edgar and Allen as the guardian of the Baudelaire children.
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