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A Mystery of Mysteries

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I did enjoy it because I love learning about Poe but the author did give off a very pompous attitude. That was a little annoying to me.

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I found myself finishing this book on Friday the 13th…not sure how that happened but I am avoiding birds and actively guarding against getting bricked up in a basement.

As far as the book, it is tremendous. A biographical examination of Poe’s death, this book is as fun as a biography as it is as a sort of whodunnit mystery. I was surprised how quickly it read and genuinely sad when the book ended. Thankfully, the author includes a pretty extensive bibliography, so if I want to keep digging, I have a curated list of resources to consult.

ARC provided

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I am one of those who only knew of Edgar Allan Poe through the caricatures - which I never took for caricatures until I read this biography.. I incorrectly assumed that the contemporary idea of Poe as an alcoholic, at least slightly insane, eccentric genius was a correct one. Turns out the man is way more complicated then I would have ever guessed, a fact Davidziak makes abundantly clear in this interesting (if at times slightly overly detailed) biography.

While I definitely appreciated the clarifications, I must confess that I did occasionally find them to overwhelm the underlying story about the mystery surrounding the man, which the title and blurb so emphatically highlighted as the focus of the book. The chapters skip back and forth in time, and while they are always clearly marked so you are aware of what time frame is being addressed, it did make for a somewhat disjointed read that did not follow a more traditional biographical format. Again, not a problem, and in fitting with the purported goal of addressing the mystery of Poe, but yet another instance where some of the overly detailed descriptions of interactions and letters back and forth affected the pacing of the story as a whole.

Still, there is a lot of fascinating stuff here and I really did learn a lot - including, most notably, that no one really knows what ultimately happened to the man, but that his legend lives on (and is probably enhanced) by the ongoing mystery...

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My thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher St. Martin's Press for an advance copy of this biography and study on the works and legacy of Edgar Allan Poe.

Edgar Poe, he was not much a fan of the name Allan as it was from the family who supported him after his mother died, but he had his problems with them. Poe had his problems with lots of people. Maybe this had something to do with his mysterious death. These problems mostly likely affected his afterlife, as many of his problems, feuds, spats and major arguments, wrote many curious bits of lore about his life and his death. During his life Poe was a poet, a writer, a dreamer a reviewer and reverer of books, a husband, a widower, a humorous fellow, a depressive, an addict and a failure in many ways. Since his death Poe has become a best selling author and literary giant quoted in thousands of ways. Poe, or at least his semblance, even tulpa has appeared in books, comics, movies, concept albums, has become a sort of fashion icon among steampunk fans and a example of the goth lifestyle with his facial hair, outfits and depressive nature. And yet how Poe died is both a mystery and something that makes his mysterious ways so much more impressive. A Mystery of Mysteries: The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe by Mark Dawidziak is a look at the life and many ways in which Poe is thought to have died, as well as a study of those who wrote about Poe's legacy either wrongly by accident or by intent.

On October 3, 1849 Edgar Poe was found laying in the streets of Baltimore, wearing clothes that were not his own and in no state to talk about how be came to be, or what had happened. By October 7 Poe was dead, never gaining conscious, only saying supposedly the word or name Reynolds, but again that could be a legend, as so much of Poe's last days and actions are. Various people claim to have seen him, some saying he was drunk, some saying paranoid, some saying he even shaved off his mustache. Writers began to pick up the stories, some of those repeating the worst stories as their way of getting back at Poe who was quick with a snide comment or a biting review in various papers. Some writers having no idea just repeating what they were told. The book then goes from the end to the beginning describing the life of Poe, his troubles with family, his writing career, his wife, and financial woes.

The book works as both a biography of the man, and a look at the legacy that was created upon his death, from both friends, enemies, and just lazy writers. Dawidziak uses alternating chapters to describe Poe's life, and the events that lead up to his body being found in Baltimore. The author also looks at the literary world of the United States at the time, where Poe fit in and explains the works of Poe in which the supernatural and mysteries that Poe is known best for, were just a small part of. What never ceases to amaze me is all the living that Poe did in such a small life time. Marriage, being widowed, numerous journalist jobs, epic stories, and lots of wandering. Dawidziak does a very good job of covering all of this and explaining how this was reflected in Poe's writing. Dawidziak is also very good at looking at the theories and ideas on Poe's death, busting myths when possible, but admitting that we shall probably never know what the true circumstances are.

The writing is very good, and tells a story more about the death of a famous man, rather than the life. Recommended for fans of Poe, and for fans of both mysteries and literary mysteries. This is the first book that I have read by the author, but I am interested in reading more.

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I enjoyed this book.

There is so much mystery about what happened to Poe. I had only heard of a couple, it is interesting that there are so many theories as to what happened.

I, like many, only knew of the mysteries Poe wrote. I was not aware that he wrote in as many genres he did. I am interested to research and get my hands on some of the other texts. For Poe fans, and those new to the author, this is a great introduction/reintroduction in his writing.

I have to add, I am interested in the title. It is the DEATH and life..... not the usual LIFE and death....

I was given the opportunity to read this by NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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This book was a non stop read that once I started reading I had a really hard time putting down. It moves along at a great pace that makes for an easy and enjoyable read, one that grabs you and keeps you interested. The characters are so real that you want to be there for them and the story grabs you and does not let you go no matter what. This book is a must read that needs to be on your TBR list.

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Well researched and there were some interesting points. However, I found nothing ground breaking. Additionally, there was so much detail I found my interest was sometimes lost in the minutiae.

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A Mystery of Mysteries: The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe
By Mark Dawidziak

I know I am not the only one that has tried to figure out what could have happened to Poe based on the scant knowledge and rumors that is known. Being a nurse and working in a drug rehab unit I thought sure he died of DT's. That can kill a person and make them delirious enough to possibly have different clothes. But I also knew doctors probably thought of this already and they have. No, he didn't die of that.

This book not only tells the very intimate and emotional story of his life but also goes through each myth and tells the truth. So many lies we have been told and we are told by who and why! So sad he was treated like this.

We are told of his active happy times, and his sad times. His achievements and struggles. His works and when and why he wrote them. This itself is interesting.

Many experts in many fields had united to piece together the time, place, science from DNA, and history, diaries, and more to come up with an answer as to what happened to Edgar Allan Poe! It was nothing I would have thought of because I don't have knowledge in all those fields and it took all that knowledge to come to this conclusion! All steps are explained.

This is an amazing book! I loved it! I want to thank the publisher and NetGalley for letting me read this wonderfully researched book!

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Did you know that Edgar Allan Poe was basically a book reviewer before he became a well known author?

He would have fit right in on bookstagram.

It’s no secret that I love Poe. So, when I had the opportunity to review a book that details his life and examines his strange and mysterious death, I jumped on the chance to read it.

I loved that this book focuses on Poe as a writer of poetry and all his complex facets that make him human instead of just his horror side. Yes, he contributed so much to this genre and his legacy is important, but he was also much more than that. I also loved that it used various quotes of his work throughout the text.

The book begins by describing Poe’s mysterious death. Poe was found disoriented and disheveled and died soon after at the age of 40. The circumstances of his death are so strange, that they could have been used in one of his stories. The book goes on to examine the various theories of his cause of death.

The one thing that hung me up a bit was that it isn’t a linear read. It jumps around a lot to various moments and if it had been more cohesive, I feel it would have been more impactful.

Nonetheless, it is a fascinating book and I really enjoyed the readability of the text as I learned more about the life and death of one of my favorite writers.

3.5/5 stars rounded up to 4 for this review

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Edgar Allen Poe has always fascinated me. I’ve even seen a rock opera about his life.

I think this book did a very nice job explaining the story of his life in a manner that didn’t simply feel like a timeline. I feel like we got more of an actual feel for Poe himself.

I think this book would be great for anyone who finds themselves intrigued by the mystery surrounding Edgar Allen Poe and his death, as well as those who want to know more of what he was truly like besides to horror role we’ve type cast him in.

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The mystique surrounding Edgar Allan Poe, the man and the myth, fascinates me.

A Mystery of Mysteries swipes away the mythos and speculation to paint an image of who Poe truly was. At the heart of this story is an attempt to unravel the circumstances of Poe’s death and the three missing days before he was found, incoherent and dying of an unknown cause.

The information is interesting, and I learned a lot. But the way content is formatted made this a jumbled, disconnected read that wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as it could have been.

Chapters alternate between the forty years of Poe’s life and the short period before his death. This would have been fine, since the author wanted particular focus on those final days. But the chapters of his life were all out of order, as if spans of time were decided upon and written, then shuffled and presented in random order. Consequently, the information was so disjointed that it was nearly impossible to keep the timeline straight in my head.

I can’t think of any logical reason for this kind of disordered timeline in a biography. It just didn’t work for me at all. If you want to read this book, my suggestion is to check each chapter’s heading for the time period, number them in their natural order, then read the book that way.

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Edgar Allan Poe is still one of the most popular writers and has dozens of books written about him. Nevertheless, most of us know the myths about him rather than the facts. A Mystery of Mysteries is full
of things about Poe that I never knew, even though I've read several biographies about him. He had a good sense of humor. He wrote satires. His combined works take up 17 volumes. We remember his detective stories and his horror, but he wrote hundreds of reviews, comedy, hoaxes, even puzzles that were published. Oh, and he didn't grow a mustache until the last couple of years of his life. One more Oh! He went by Edgar Poe or Edgar A. Poe. not Edgar Allan Poe.

I haven't given it all away. There's plenty more where that came from, especially about the theories surrounding his death. There is so much I didn't know about his life that I'm going to buy A Mystery of Mysteries to use for research.

Thank you to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review A Mystery of Mysteries.

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Biographies and memoirs are one of my favorite genres to read.. You learn about the person's life but you can also learn a lot of history from when and where the person lived.
I was very excited to read a biography of Edar Allan Poe because I have never read one.
WOW! This is a stunning work by author Mark Dawidziak who did a terrific job in setting the 19th century life and world of the author. He provided a lot of detailsi of Poe's death and life from other authors who have written on the subject of Poe as an author and a man.
Poe's parent's were actors who died young. That probably explained the different "roles" in his life from a charming Southern gentlemen , a well read and intelligent author to a drunken angry and jealous man ready for literary and other battles.
Poe's dark and dreary writing propelled him to tte top of 18th century America literary curcles.. He was a superstar and the ladies adored him, he never went far long without female companionship. He also got into literary feuds with almost every notable author in America at that time and even Charles Dickens in England. To me, it sounds like Poe was very too clever for his own good in his various roles . People would turn away from him as quickly they embraced him. He made a large circle of friends but in the end they deserted him and when he died he was a pathetic and lonely man.

Thank You to NetGalley, publishers St Martins Press and author Mark Dawidziak for providing me a free copy of this book and I freely give my enthusiastic and honest opinion. It's one of the best literary biographies I have read in a long time.

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A MYSTERY OF MYSTERIES recounts the life of Edgar Allan Poe through the lens of his death. while the cause of the poet’s death cannot be proven, the authors prove that Poe’s death has shaped how people view him. in that sense, this accessible, engaging trade-press book offers analysis of both historical memory and reception history of one of the most widely read poets in the history of the U.S.

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What a wonderful look at Poe and his life. There were many things I didn't know going into this and I found that this brought to light a lot of interesting life points for Poe.

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Thank you Netgally and the publisher for an arc copy for a honest review. I really didn't care for the book at all. It kept skipping around and wasn't congruent.

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Even I have fallen for the cultural iconic portrait of Edgar Allen Poe: the raven haired, black eyed gentleman with the wan and somber face. The writer who penned macabre tales and whose detective set the precedent. The man whose love died young, forever in mourning.

Then I read several articles he had written. It was a whole ‘nuther voice, a man of rational and logical thought. And then I read a book about Poe as scientist. Wait! Who was this Poe? Do we even really know him?

The mystery of Poe’s life and death still baffles scholars and scientists. Poe was reported to be a self-possessed gentleman and a wild, illogical drunk. He married his beloved Sissy, his thirteen-year-old cousin whose mother embraced Eddy as a son. But what the true nature of their relationship was, we don’t really know.

We do know his life was haunted by tragedy. His parents were actors, and his father abandoned his family after his birth. His mother died of tuberculosis at age twenty-four. His brother died of alcohol related disease at age twenty-four. His beloved Virginia suffered from tuberculosis, dying at age twenty-four. Poe fell in love and was spurned before his marriage and after his wife’s death. He became famous and infamous but lived in poverty, always looking for the next big chance to make his mark. And he disappeared for days before found out of his mind, in some one else’s clothing, feverish and ill. He was buried even before his family was notified.

Early biographies and reports of his death can’t be trusted. We know he didn’t tolerate alcohol, but what medical conditions did he have that could have led to his death? Hair analysis doesn’t present an answer.

A Mystery of Mysteries gathers together a multitude of sources, trying to cobble together the truth. It’s entertaining and wide ranging. It will change your perception of Poe. Including learning that he had brown hair and light eyes, was slender and handsome and strong as a young cadet, and his wife wrote a poem for him.

I received a free egalley from the publisher though NegtGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.

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I almost didn't take this when I saw it on NetGalley, but I am glad to have read it. Lots of facts and research about Poe's life but also his death and last days. I have been a fan of Poe most of my life. He has been definitely misunderstood by many. The writer sheds some light on this cold case of Poe's death and I was fascinated.

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy to read for review. I highly recommend it if you are a Poe lover.

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Mystery of Mysteries is an interesting and in depth biography on a man I am realizing we don’t truly know like we think we do, Edgar Allen Poe. While I had heard snippets of trivia about his life, I never saw beyond the caricature of the gloomy Gothic man we typically associate with Poe. Mark Dawidziak intricately goes through every possible detail of Poe’s life that can be known and talks to many experts about Poe’s life and his mysterious death. The impact Edgar Allen Poe has had on literature, poetic and prose style, critical reviews, and countless authors and artists is astounding. Like Daidziak asserts, Poe should get more credit for all his impacts in fields beyond Gothic and horror because his reach and style were so much more than what is typically remembered of him. I think this book is for literature, history, and Poe fans alike. It isn’t the fastest paced biography ever but it is rewarding to learn so much more about the mysterious Mr. Poe than one could ever bargain for.

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I will admit that I am one of the many who bought into the myth of Poe, the dark, spooky, twisted and tortured man of horror fiction. I loved him for it and still do but with that said, I found A MYSTERY OF MYSTERIES refreshing and inspiring.

I loved reading about the other side of Poe and learning that he was not just this morose, serious man who hid away writing horror stories while drinking himself to oblivion.

He was funny, highly intelligent and agile if not athletic.

The mystery around his death remains, I was hoping for a breakthrough on that while reading this book but despite that disappointment, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It was well-researched and well-written.

Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for this digital ARC

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