It is the bicentennial of the birth of Edgar Allen Poe. This is being celebrated around the world and especially in his home country of the United States. So, there's no need for me to go on rapturously about the significance of this most ominous of ominous writers. At least, not for too long.
He is easily recognized as one of the founding writers of modern horror, but it is all too often overlooked that he is one of the fathers of detective fiction, the psychological thriller and science fiction. And as a poet he was worthy of being a rock star.
His influence on literature, film, television, theatre, art and culture is immeasurable. He was a pop culture icon before the idea of pop culture was conceived. His inspiration to future generations of artists is inherently
deep and intertwined within so many disciplines that range from doctoral dissertations to children's toys.
Most important to me is not any particularly work or set of works by Poe, but the artistic and narrative mindset that he has established and over more than a century kept entirely and exclusively his. You can pastiche him and tribute him, but the atmosphere of a work of Poe always remains in the ownership of Poe, no matter who put the words down or the images on the screen.
Sure, many people over time did build his reputation. Done so through glorious illustrations by people like Gustave Doré or the series of very successful film adaptations by Roger Corman (even when they weren't always that faithful), the performances of his poems by greats like Vincent Price, Orson Welles and James Earl Jones (yes, I'm referring to that Simpson's episode), volumes of music including the Alan Parsons Project prog-rock album and tribute works like the recent anthology Poe as edited by Ellen Datlow.
But despite all those who did and continue to contribute to his fame and his immortality, if the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe could appear - during a very Poe style séance, I'd like to imagine - to accept an award for his contribution to culture I think Edgar would have every right to say "I have no one else to thank but me, the work is all mine, I did this."
That's enough about Mr Poe. I think to celebrate his birthday it would only be proper to watch a bit of Poe in action. Here's John Astin, best known as Gomez from The Addams Family, which only seems apt, in Poe garb reciting The Raven.
Go on, relax and enjoy