Edgar Allan Poe and Modernism

Erlei Wang


The present research, in light of the comparison between the narrative techniques, aesthetic thoughts and themes
of Poe’s works with those of Modernist writers, attempts to argue that Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), the famous
American short story writer, poet and critic, is one of the most important forerunners of Modernism and that
Poe’s works have provided the writers in the mainstream of the Modernist movements with literary inspirations
and theoretical bases. Both the works of Poe and those by the Modernist writers depicted the alienated and
isolated characters subject to self-fragmentation and self-destruction in a world of wasteland devoid of any
meaning and significance. Poe’s strong sense of spiritual alienation and isolation in society embodied in his
literary protagonists provided a perfect model for the Modernists. The Poe-cult was initiated by Charles
Baudelaire, the French Symbolist poet, but his influence upon Modernism spread to the major “isms” in the
European continent where Expressionism, Symbolism, Surrealism, Futurism and Stream of Consciousness burst
into fabulous flower on the stage of literature and art.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/ells.v4n3p82

English Language and Literature Studies   ISSN 1925-4768 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4776 (Online)

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