Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul

October 4, 2013, through January 26, 2014
Image of Poe

The works of Edgar Allan Poe have frightened and thrilled readers for more than one hundred-fifty years. Terror of the Soul—inspired by the preface to Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque—explores Poe's poetry, fiction, and literary criticism and his profound influence on later writers. The exhibition will feature nearly one hundred items drawn primarily from the Morgan's holdings and the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature at the New York Public Library, two of the most important collections of Poe material in the United States. In addition a number of exceptional private collection loans will be on view.

Poe's mastery of multiple writing genres will be represented by poem and short-story manuscripts, early printed editions, letters, and literary criticism published in contemporary newspapers, magazines, and journals. On view will be such works as Annabel Lee and The Bells in Poe's own hand, one of the earliest printings of The Raven, the first printing of The Cask of Amontillado, and an unprecedented three copies of Tamerlane, Poe's earliest published work and one of the rarest books in American literature. Lesser-known writings, including “A Reviewer Reviewed” (Poe's never-before-exhibited critique of his own work written under a pseudonym) and the author's annotated copy of his last published book, Eureka, provide a more complete picture of this complex writer.

Importantly, Terror of the Soul is among the first museum exhibitions to explore Poe's wide-ranging influence on fellow writers as diverse as Charles Dickens, Stéphane Mallarmé, Vladimir Nabokov, and Terry Southern. Other literary masterpieces on view include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles, Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Paul Auster's previously unpublished lecture on Poe's influence on French authors, and T. S. Eliot's annotated typescript of The Waste Land.

Lead funding for Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul is provided by Karen H. Bechtel, with generous support from Liz and Rod Berens and the Susan Jaffe Tane Foundation.

© Eduard Prüssen