The opinion has been often stated that Edgar Allan Poe was bizarre and amoral; that he was a lover of morbid beauty only; that he was unrelated to worldly circumstances-aloof from the affairs of the world; that his epitaph might well be: “Out of space-out of time.”
But it is dangerous to attempt to separate any historical figure from his setting. No individual can ever be understood fully until the subtle influences of his formal education, his reading, his associates, and his time and country (with his heredity) are traced and synthesized. Too much has been said, perhaps, about Poe’s “detachment” from his environment and too little about his background—his heritage from Europe and the influences of his early life in Virginia. Elizabeth Arnold, Poe’s mother, was born in England in 1787 and was brought to this country when she was a girl of nine. “In speaking of my mother,” Poe wrote years later to Beverley Tucker of Virginia, “you have touched a string to which my heart fully responds.” Judging from his spirited defense of Elizabeth Poe, it appears that Poe never became unmindful of his immediate English origins on the maternal side.
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