Cover Image: A Mystery of Mysteries

A Mystery of Mysteries

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

A Mystery of Mysteries is the final line from an Edgar Allen Poe poem. It also is the crux of the way and reasons that Poe died.
There are lots of stereotypes about Poe the drunkard with various stories about his death but Dawidziak explores more fully the death and what it reveals about his life. Offering more insight into the possible ways that Poe died than most, we come more fully to understand the man instead of the myth.
If you like Poe the enigma you will enjoy this glimpse into the man.

Was this review helpful?

This book was sent to me by Netgalley for review. Thanks to the publisher for the electronic copy. Poe…the best…this book brings new insights and facts to light…intriguing…mysteries…questions…answers…don’t miss this book…

Was this review helpful?

This exhaustively-researched book seeks to discover Edgar Allen Poe’s cause of death.
Mark Dawidziak has pulled out all the stops to this end, interviewing modern Poe experts and doctors we well as combining reports made by friends at the time of his death in Baltimore, October 7, 1849, when Poe was only forty years old. It was a weird scene—Poe had been missing for three days and was found fevered, hallucinating, and wearing someone else’s clothing. His friends were horrified at his condition. He’d been desperately trying to raise money and drinking, but none of them had ever seen him is such a state.

Ever since his death, rumors have circulated about its cause. Was it alcoholism? Tuberculosis? Syphilis? Murder? Is it possible even to know so long after his death?

Dawidziak shifts between his research on Poe’s cause of death and an exploration of his life. The cliche image of pale and haunted Poe writing by single candle in a garret is just that. Poe was a social and friendly man, good company, an excellent lecturer, and dedicated to writing. The real cause of death would have to be poverty, because, although Poe may have seemed courtly his one set of clothes was mended and brushed, he was shabby and malnourished. Desperation wafted off him as he struggled to support his mother-in-law and wife. He had fingers in many pies, he had a fine reputation as a writer and his work very popular, but he was buckling under the weight of his responsibilities.

And then there’s the drinking. Poe had a way of sabotaging himself with drink, ruining many of the most promising opportunities he had to get a leg up. It took little for him to get drunk and the results lasted for days. Life was grim and hard in 1840’s America and Poe’s life seemed especially so.TB was the cause of death for his mother, wife, brother, and beloved foster mother.

I don’t want to spoil things, but Dawidziak recognizes that we will never know what Edgar Allen Poe died of. “A Mystery of Mysteries” presents a detailed portrait of someone who brought a new genre to life and guaranteed its survival, while his own death remains the kind of mystery he would have loved.

Was this review helpful?