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Poe: A Life Cut Short (Ackroyd's Brief Lives #4)

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  719 Ratings  ·  126 Reviews

Gothic, mysterious, theatrical, fatally flawed, and dazzling, the life of Edgar Allan Poe, one of America’s greatest and most versatile writers, is the ideal subject for Peter Ackroyd. Poe wrote lyrical poetry and macabre psychological melodramas; invented the first fictional detective; and produced pioneering works of science fiction and fantasy. His innovative style, i

Hardcover, 224 pages
Published January 20th 2009 by Nan A. Talese (first published January 1st 2008)
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La Mala ✌
Me partió el corazón leer ésto. No sabía de la vida de Poe más que aquello casi todos los años me toca estudiar para el profesorado; esos conocimientos muy por encima, vieron, los del estilo Poe escribió ésto porque de chiquito murió su madre o esta frase refiere a la muerte de su esposa; en fin, hechos muy al voleo, y demás análisis de sus poesías y cuentos. Nada en profundidad.


Este libro fue un comienzo para conocer al Poe de carne y hueso, al borracho, al apasionado por la muerte; aquél que,
Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Esta é a segunda biografia da autoria de Peter Ackroyd que leio (anteriormente li a de Shakespeare) e fica provado que Ackroyd é um autor fadado a escrever biografias “impossíveis”.
Não sendo deslumbrante, é eficaz na forma como monta o puzzle da vida de Edgar Allan Poe que, tal como a de Shakespeare (apesar de num nível diverso), tem várias e profundas lacunas que deixam muito espaço à especulação.
Vida atormentada, destino sombrio, compromisso com a desilusão, bipolaridade, miséria extrema… Poe
Jan 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Suggested alternate title — "Poe: Dude Was Fucked Up."
Jan 29, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
What a fascinating study on the age old question of nature vs. nurture.

I expected Poe to have a tragic life to justify his creepy, albeit brilliant writing. This is a man who early on decided he was a victim. He was adopted at age 2 by loving wealthy parents who saw to his every need and loved him as their own. He complained and was ungrateful EVERY step of the way. He would lie to people about his misfortune, and try to manipulate their sympathy and he did this for his entire 40 years. Finally
Özlem Güzelharcan
Dostoyevsky admired him. So did Baudaleare, Kafka, James Joyce and many others. Poe's work is so timeless, so up to date that we usually tend to forget that he's actually lived during 1800s where slavery was legal and allright as well as marrying minors, that the streets of New York was occupied by the pigs and horses and stuff! Reading this book made me realize again and again that Poe is a true legend.

And it also made me wanna travel back in time and hug this alcoholic, always-in-dept young P
DeAnna Knippling
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poe. What a dick.

Look, I'm not saying Poe wasn't a great writer. But he doesn't seem to have been somebody I would want to be in the same room with. Not for even ten minutes. Unlike HP Lovecraft, where the more I found out the more fascinating he was, the more I found out about Poe, page by page, the less I wanted to know. But - a good biography, if you don't mind having your heroes revealed as whiny, self-involved alcoholics who wreck everything good in their lives and blame their failings on e
Nov 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
For Halloween weekend, I read this little biography which contained a number of biographical details but was focused towards Poe's quest for family.

I knew from reading anthology entries about Poe that he was an orphan, a hard drinker, and emotionally injured from losing his mother and his young wife to early deaths. (They both died at age 24.) But reading nearly 200 pages of detail about his life really painted a picture of a man in pain, a man who increasingly lost control of his life. His las
Short and sweet. Ackroyd's Poe: A Life Cut Short presents a good, short biography of Poe's life. It is not an in depth biography, so if you are looking for a long debate about whether or not Poe had sex with his wife, it isn't in this book, thankfully. Despite the book's short length, Ackroyd does deliver some good analysis of Poe's work as well.
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Dios me dio una chispa de genialidad, pero la apagó en la miseria". Buena biografía. No es de las mejores, pero allana mucho el camino a aquellos que quieran saber lo triste que fue la vida de Poe.
Laura Verret
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic introduction to a fantastical man and the fantasy he created not only through his pen, but also through his life. Ackroyd's tone is highly readable and highly engaging - I look forward to reading more of his author sketches.

Sometimes I found it a bit boring to read again and again about Poe's drunkenness, which destroyed his life – even if all these stories might be true. I found it more interesting that Ackroyds refers to Poes childhood in Richmond/Virginia, which made him to a supporter of slavery and brought him in opposite to the Bostonians and their transzendalism.
That the loss of his parents, especially his mother, and the experience of orphanage influenced his life and work is here described very convincingl
Žarko Milenković
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: razne-knjige
Biografija koju piše Piter Akrojd počinje tokom šest poslednjih dana Poovog života. Niko ne zna šta se dogodilo od momenta kada su ga prijatelji ispratili na parobrod u Baltimoru do smrti šest dana kasnije u jednoj lokalnoj kafani.

*Solidna, vredna, informativna knjiga: ako volite Poa (a ko ga ne voli?!) – ovo vredi imati.(*Dejan Ognjanović)
reading on a smart phone is not ideal is it!? This was the first and it will be the last in iphone format.

Anyways onto the book. I knew less than nothing about Poe's demise, how intriguing and yet befitting!

I am a sucker for Ackroyd though.
Bárbara Cobain
Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Um volume obrigatório para qualquer fã de Edgar Allan Poe.
Pete daPixie
Peter Ackroyd's 'Poe-A Life Cut Short' is not the size of other biographies of his that I have read in the past, being all over in one hundred and sixty pages. The first biography of Poe was written shortly after his death in 1849, by Rufus Griswold, who portrayed the man as 'a drunken womanizing madman with no morals and no friends'. The Edgar Allan Poe museum in Richmond, Virginia claims that this is a distorted image, that has created the legend that lives to this day. Ackroyd's biography con ...more
Apr 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I ploughed though this for a few reasons, I love his work, gothic and macabre, who could not appreciate 'The Raven'? I have a couple of his 'All-In-One' books (different bindings and no first editions - imagine!)

I like a little bit of doom and gloom and had read about Poe in articles over the years but, despite knowing of his love of drink and marrying a kid, I had no idea just how much of a bastard he was.

Selfish and greedy, desperately needy (it rhymes, would Poe have approved?) he wasn't som
Mar 06, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those looking for "a cheap holiday in other people's misery"
Poe was undoubtedly a great and hugely influential writer. Unfortunately, I don't much care for his Tales, and any contemplation of his Verse leads me to risible recollection of Humbert Humbert. He suffered greatly from misfortune and ill-health, but he was a bit of a snivelling little git, withal.
This accomplished entry in Ackroyd's "Short Lives" series will have the somewhat melancholy honor of being the last book that I ever purchased at Stacey's.
David Levell
Apr 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very slim and pacy volume, focusing more on the wild ride of Poe’s life than indepth consideration of his writing. It’s a good place to go for a quick handle on Poe, being short, well-constructed, fair-minded, plausible and entertaining. My only quibble is its odd tendency to begin a lot of sentences with ‘So’, which gets a little distracting.
Tom Carrico
Feb 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
“Lord, Help My Poor Soul”

(Books reviewed in this article include: Poe, A Life Cut Short by Peter Ackroyd, In the Shadow of the Master, Classic Poe Tales and Essays edited by Michael Connelly and On a Raven’s Wing, New Tales in Honor of Edgar Allan Poe edited by Stuart M. Kaminsky)

January 19, 2009 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe: poet, editor, literary critic and creator of fantasy, horror and mystery fiction. He is credited with inventing the detective novel genre. S
Book Review – ‘Poe: A Life Cut Short’ by Peter Ackroyd

Anyone interested in the life of Poe will be aware of the tremendous hype surrounding his death. It is a fact that he died in a state of delirium, and was found in this state only a week after he had cheerfully waved goodbye to his aunt from a steamboat bound from Richmond to Baltimore. This was the last sighting of Poe until he was found dying six days later in a dirty tavern. What happened during that missing week is a complete mystery; one
Ignotus K.
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Estimo que esta será una de las reseñas más cortas que haga dado el poco dominio que tengo en el área que atañe a este libro. Que esto, no obstante, no de indicios de que me haya gustado menos que mis demás lecturas; la verdad es que me fue muy grata. Es, como se ve desde el título, una biografía del autor estadounidense Edgar Allan Poe, cuya obra admiro y leo hace ya un tiempo, y cuya influencia no se puede pasar por alto por mucho que se intente.
El libro comienza de forma bastante narrativa pa
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew next to nothing about Poe before I picked up this 'life' - I had no idea what a sad, short life he had.
Ackroyd's waspish, often acerbic style perfectly suits his subject although at times it was hard to work out whether he was sympathetic or frustrated with him.
However the certainty of his statements often left no doubt that there could be a contrary opinion. Having since read a bit more about Poe I can see that there ARE indeed lots of contrary opinions!
Roof Beam Reader (Adam)
Coincidentally, I realize, Poe died exactly 168 years ago today, the day I finished reading his biography.
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-male, poe
I think that "Ackroyd's Brief Lives" is a good, overall introduction. Poe lead such a tragic life, beginning at age 2 when his mother died (Tuberculosis) and his father abandoned Poe and his siblings for the theater. It seems that he never got over that loss of his mother. Poe was taken in by foster parents John Allan, a successful Scottish merchant and his wife Frances (who also died from Tuberculosis). Poe attended school abroad and did well and they returned to Virginia and he attended Univer ...more
Mar 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teens
I have read where this has been poo-pooed by some Poe scholars on the grounds that Ackroyd did not properly cite his sources (or didn't cite them at all.) For what it was, though--a kind of snapshot view of a life--I thought it was great. I thought this biography of Poe offered something that other biographies have not. There is no way we can truly know the kind of man Poe was personally, not without having known him personally. But after reading this account, I felt I at least had a better idea ...more
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jim Cherry
Jan 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like Poe himself, Peter Ackroyd’s Poe is of a different time. I remember when I was a kid, my grandmother had a library that she had amassed during her life. Leather bound first editions of some amazing authors, and included in that collection were slim volumes that were biographies of writers. Ackroyd’s Brief Lives series, of which Poe is one, harkens back to this tradition, in Poe’s case, remarkably well.

Poe is a short book, it does cover the major events of his life in some detail, but not in
Yara (The Narratologist)
For a book that basically has to repeat "Poe was poor but then he made a bit of money but then he got drunk off his ass and lost it all again so then he drank some more" ad infinitum, this was still a somewhat entertaining read thanks to Ackroyd's wit. He does a good job, wading through the endless supply of rumours and conjecture surrounding Poe's life and character, and he simply cannot help cracking a joke now and then.

For example:

He was writing passionate and devoted letters to two women at
Jason Walker
May 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Completely without pretense and yet with a very pro-subject bent this retelling of one of the strangest lives in American Literature is a good read. Ackroyd builds more and more sympathies for his subject even as we all know the dangers of Poe from our misguided English teachers in Junior High and High School. The tendancy to just label him a drunk and a drug abuser or mental case is long past. This biography doesn't attempt to set the record straight, it just tells the story of a man abondoned ...more
Oct 24, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read a good deal of Ackroyd’s writings this book was a bit of a surprise in its succinct and sparseness of debt and length (250+ pages). Initially I was a little disappointed but as I read further into this brief biography I became pleased with his brevity and relieved. I had known of Poe’s tragic life and passing but I had not realized just how tragic it all was. How he managed to produce a cannon of work of its size and its is amazing considering the circumstances in which he lived. Ack ...more
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Peter Ackroyd CBE is an English novelist and biographer with a particular interest in the history and culture of London.

Peter Ackroyd's mother worked in the personnel department of an engineering firm, his father having left the family home when Ackroyd was a baby. He was reading newspapers by the age of 5 and, at 9, wrote a play about Guy Fawkes. Reputedly, he first realized he was gay at the age
More about Peter Ackroyd...

Other Books in the Series

Ackroyd's Brief Lives (6 books)
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