The Relationship Between Rufus Griswold And Edgar

Essay, Research Paper

The Relationship Between Griswold And Poe Rufus Wilmot Griswold, an editor for Graham’s Magazine from 1842 to 1843 and the International Monthly Magazine from 1850 to 1852 used his position to gain influence amongst the literati. Mr. Griswold held many positions such as becoming an anthologist of The Poets and Poetry of America in 1842 and several similar books. The relationship between Edgar Allan Poe and Rufus Wilmot Griswold is complex and puzzling. Ever since their initial meeting in 1841, these two men beheld each other with a certain amount of professional suspicion. Poe and Griswold seemed to dislike each other, but would cloak their aversion with a pretended friendship as long as each one had something to gain. Even when Poe, known as a fearless critic of literary works, Mr. Griswold considered himself superincumbent to Poe. He viewed Poe as a poorly educated Southerner with a lucky pen. Poe in return, held no higher regard of Griswold, Thinking him to be a commonplace writer who s works were only read due to his social status and favors owed. These feelings about Griswold seem to only arise later in their mysterious relationship. Initially, Poe had a higher opinion of Griswold, calling him not only a polished prose-writer, but a poet of no ordinary powers. (Harrison, Complete Works, XV, p. 215). This view seems to have diminished after Griswold assumed Poe s duties as editor in Graham s Magazine in 1842. Poe wrote a letter ensuing this occasion in which he states he does not hold Mr. Griswold in special respect. (Ostrom Letters p. 205). His dislike for Mr. Griswold seems to grow with Poe s reviews only becoming increasingly malicious. In October 19, 1843, Poe wrote “It is a pity that so many of these biographies [for Graham's Magazine] were entrusted to Mr. Griswold. He certainly lacks independence, or judgment, or both” (Ostrom, Letters, p. 237). In addition to attacking Griswold, Poe was also harsh on some of Griswold’s friends, saying of Charles F. Briggs that he, “. . . has never composed in his life three consecutive sentences of grammatical English.”Many explanations have been bestowed to explain Mr. Griswold s character assassination of Poe s character upon his death. One scholarly deduction on the antecedent of the hostility between Poe and Griswold was that it stemmed from a mutual adoration for the minor poet Mrs. Frances Sargent Osgood.In 1845, their relationship took a turn temporarily for the better.When Griswold wrote his new Anthology, The Prose Writers of America and publicly stated that Poe could not be left out of such a work, Griswold asked Poe to present his work. “Although I have some cause of personal quarrel with you, which you will easily enough remember, I do not under any circumstances permit, as you have repeatedly charged, my private grief to influence my judgment as a critic, or its expressions. I retain, therefore, the early formed and well founded favorable opinions of your works.” (Griswold to Poe, January 14, 1845, Harrison, Complete Works, XVII, p. 197). Around this time, they began to exchange pleasant letters and both seemed to have buried the past.

Edgar Allan Poe s death was a mystery to all, various theories arose about the beloved author s demise such as alcohol, disease and other medical problems, amongst much less popular speculations.Around the time of Poe s death , Griswold had many legal, health and personal problems, which may have made him bitter towards life and especially those whom may have hurt him. After Poe s death, all the years of bitterness finally unveiled on Griswold true feeling towards Poe. In writing Poe s obituary, Griswold wrote, “Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it” (New York Tribune, October 9, 1849, p. 2). Afraid of being targeted as a hater of Poe, he signed it Ludwig but soon afterwards, he was exposed. Finally, in a letter on December 17, 1849, “I wrote, as you suppose, the notice of Poe in The Tribune, but very hastily. I was not his friend, nor was he mine” (Reprinted in Gill, The Life of Poe, 1877, pp. 228-229). Ever since it s initial publication, this obituary has been a topic of literati ever since. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Didier, Eugene, L., “The Life and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe New York: W. J. Widdleton, 1877, pp. 19-129. Excite Online Reference Almanac Gill The Life of Poe 1877, pp. 228-229 Griswold, Rufus Wilmot The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe New York: T. Y. Crowell, 1902, vol XVII Griswold, Rufus Wilmot (as “Ludwig”)”Death of Edgar Allan Poe,” New York Tribune, October 9, 1849, p. 2 Poe, Edgar Allan, “[Letters to R. W. Griswold] The Letters of Edgar Allan Poe New York: Gordian Press, Inc, 1966. Quinn, Arthur Hobson Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography New York: D. Appleton-Century Company, 1941.


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