Wisdom on Poe
I did not attend Rob Velella’s presentation of Poe at the Rutland Library on May 15. The Rutland Herald article stated that Poe’s enemy was Rufus Wilmot Griswold, born in Benson in 1815 and raised in Hubbardton. Velella said Griswold was one of the most influential literary critics and did more than anyone else to shape how Americans remember Edgar Allan Poe.
Griswold moved to Albany, N.Y., at age 15 to live with George C. Foster, a writer best known for his work New-York by Gas-Light. The reprinting of that book provides a 60-page introduction about Foster, and includes a wealth of information on how Foster, Griswold and Poe interacted.
Griswold had a strained relationship with Edgar Allan Poe that continued even after Poe’s death. Griswold wrote an obituary of Poe under the pen name of “Ludwig” that was highly derogatory towards the deceased. Griswold subsequently became Poe’s literary executor under mysterious circumstances and continued to defame Poe in a written “Memoir of the Author,” included in a posthumous collection of his works, that combined false accusations with comments on Poe’s character that were not refuted for many years and became the standard Poe biography.
Iago said it best in Shakespeare’s Othello:
“Who steals my purse steals trash; ... But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed. “
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