Tag: fiction

5 Facts About Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven’

Once upon a midnight dreary, Edgar Allan Poe wrote The Raven, a poem about a talking raven’s mysterious visit to a distraught lover slowly descending into madness. Today is the poem’s 176th anniversary, and to celebrate its publication, here are 5 facts about one of the greatest poetic works in American literature.

 

 

Image via Poe Museum
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5. poe’s wife was deathly ill as he was writing it

As Edgar Allan Poe was writing The Raven, his wife Virginia Clemm was suffering from tuberculosis. As I mention in my article on fun facts about the aforementioned poet to celebrate his birthday (found here), Virginia was his first cousin, who he married while she was only thirteen-years-old. Regardless whether or not anything insidious took place between the two, there’s no doubt that Poe loved her dearly, and having lost his biological mother, his foster mother and his brother to tuberculosis in the past, he was understandably quite worried. The Raven, is a poem about a man who had lost a loved one and is unable to move on in his life, and this historical context allows us to see the inspiration.

 

 

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4. the raven was almost a parrot

Poe wanted the central symbol of the story to be a “non-reasoning” creature capable of speech, and because of this he almost decided on a parrot. He changed it to a raven, a creature he considered “equally capable of speech”, because it more matched the tone of the poem. He was also inspired by Grip, the raven in Charles Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of Eighty, specifically the scene where Grip makes a noise and somebody asks “What was that – him tapping at the door?” Poe had written a review of Barnaby Rudge, in which he claims that Grip should have served more of a symbolic function. The similarities would be very difficult to go unnoticed.

 

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3. poe capitalized on the success of ‘the raven’

After the success of The Raven, Poe published an essay titled The Philosophy of Composition, in which he detailed the poem’s creation. In it, he explains how every creative decision in the process of writing The Raven was based on logic: from the raven entering the narrator’s chamber to avoid the storm to it perching itself on a marble bust to create stark visual contrast. Even the term “nevermore”, he claimed, was a deliberate decision because of the emotional effect created by long vowel sounds. While the historical consensus is that much of the essay’s writing is exaggerated, it still provides us with a valuable insight into Poe’s creative process.

 

 

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2. ‘The Raven’ immediately made poe a household name

While the poem, unfortunately, made Poe little money, it catapulted him into national renown, so much so that people started nicknaming him “The Raven”. Not only that, but parodies based on the poem began circulating throughout Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, including The Craven, The Gazelle, The Whippoorwill, The Turkey, even The Pole-Cat, which reached Abraham Lincoln, who, while finding the parody quite funny, hadn’t yet read the original.

 

Image via Patch

1. ‘the Raven’ is the only poem with a sport’s team

The football team the Baltimore Ravens is actually named after the titular character in Poe’s poem, as Baltimore is the city where he died. The name was chosen in a fan contest, where 33,288 voters wished to honor the lost past poet, yet they also liked, according to The Baltimore Sun, “the tie-in with the other birds in town, the Orioles, and found it easy to visualize a tough, menacing black bird.”.

 

 

6 Facts About Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’

While most people only know of the The Shining thanks to the film adaptation directed by Stanley Kubrick, Stephen King’s 1977 novel was published today, and to celebrate a story that has revolutionized the horror genre, here are a list of fun facts.

 

Image via Geology

6. the location of the overlook hotel was entirely arbitrary

After writing Carrie and ‘Salem’s Lot, which were both set in small towns in Maine, Stephen King wanted to, in his own words, “spend a year away from Maine so that my next novel would have a different sort of background.” To decide where his next story was to take place, he opened an atlas of the United States on a kitchen table and set his finger down a random location, which just so happened to be Boulder, Colorado. Curiously, though, King seems to have abandoned this strategy entirely, as the majority of his book after the fact have taken place in Maine.

 

Image via Cemetery Dance Publications

5. originally, there was a prologue and epilogue

Before The Shining was published, there included a prologue titled “Before the Play” which chronicled the events of the Overlook Hotel before the arrival of the Torrence family, as well as an epilogue titled “After the Play,” though neither were included in the final draft. Five years later the prologue was published in Whispers magazine, and an abridged version appeared in the 1997 issue of TV-Guide to promote the upcoming miniseries. The epilogue was thought to be lost, but was re-discovered in 2016, and both were published in a special edition of the novel released by Cemetery Dance Publication.

 

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4. king hated the kubrick film

This one may not be as unknown to fans of Stephen King, but to this day he claims he was disappointed by the 1980 film adaptation by Stanley Kubrick, despite it being regarded as one of the greatest horror movies of all time. His criticisms mostly stem from how poorly Kubrick adapted the novel’s themes, as well as how little the original source material was followed. I, for one, have to agree that, as an adaptation, the 1980 The Shining is subpar.

 

Image via Amuse – VICE

3. the hotel that king used as inspiration is also haunted

Many believe the Stanley Hotel is haunted, having reported a number of cases of ghostly activity. Kitchen staff have reported to have heard a party going on in the ballroom, only to find it empty. Patrons in the lobby have allegedly heard someone playing the ballroom’s piano; employees investigating the music purportedly found nobody sitting there. Employees believe that particular ghost is of Freelan O. Stanley’s wife, Flora, who used to be a piano player. In one guest room, people claim to have seen a man standing over the bed before running into the closet. This same apparition is allegedly responsible for stealing guests’ jewelry, watches, and luggage. Others reported to have seen ghosts in their rooms in the middle of the night, simply standing in their room before disappearing. Are these real ghosts or simply the imaginations of the inhabitants hijacked by the novel’s reputation?

 

Image via NPR

2. the novel was adapted into an opera

Who would have thought that a supernatural horror novel would be inspiration for an opera? And who would have thought that the performance would have received largely favorable reviews? Directed by Eric Simonson and premiering at the Ordway Music Theater in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the opera was, according to critics, “an unqualified success.”

 

Image via Screenrant

1. ‘The shining’ was the first of king’s book to introduce the supernatural ability of the same name

If you’re a fan of the Stephen King Macroverse (which I explain in-depth here), then you know how prevalent “the shine” is in his books. While the abilities of those that possess the shine range from pyrokinesis to precognition, in The Shining it’s explained as telephony, and it’s the first of King’s novels that introduces it to his world. Since then, dozens of characters have been theorized to poses the shine, from John Coffey in The Green Mile to Mother Abigail in The Stand, and while Carrie was written before The Shining, it’s been retconned (at least by the readers) that her telekinesis was also a result of the shine.

 

featured image via The Mary Sue

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