08 Oct Edgar Allan Poe statue unveiled in the city he despised
The Boston-born author, poet, editor and literary critic Edgar Allan Poe is associated with many things, in particular his tales of mystery and the macabre that made him so central to the American Romantic Movement. What he isn’t known for, is a love for his hometown. Indeed, he seemed to have nothing good to say about the city that he left as an orphaned child.
This makes it all the more curious for many fans of custom bronze sculptures that this very city has now honored him with a statue, finally giving him formal recognition as part of Boston’s remarkable literary heritage. It’s not even as if Poe attempted to hide his disdain for the city from the world, given his memorable pronouncements that “Bostonians have no soul”, were “very dull” and were even “heartily ashamed of the fact” that they had been born there at all.
Still, none of this has proved an obstacle to Mayor Martin J. Walsh declaring: “It’s time that Poe, whose hometown was Boston, be honored for his connection to the city.” One of Walsh’s predecessors as major, Thomas Menino, went further, describing Poe as “one of the most important figures in American literature”, adding: “We are proud to call him a Bostonian.”
There’s no shortage of evidence that such pride was not shared by Poe himself, given his vicious dismantling of the work of fellow writers from the city, various literary feuds and comparisons of the ideas and writings of Bostonians to the croaking of frogs – famously dubbing them “Frogpondians”. That nickname played on the Frog Pond in the Boston Common, and represented a distaste for such writers’ moralistic works.
But on the positive side, Poe’s mother certainly did love Boston, and there’s been a more concerted effort in recent years among locals to embrace her son’s own connection to the city, with Stefanie Rocknak, the sculptor and philosophy professor at Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y., commenting of the new statue: “He’s home. He’s back, in triumphant gesture, respected as a literary figure.”
The resultant statue is indeed triumphant, depicting the writer of The Raven and The Tell-Tale Heart in a purposeful stride with a billowing cape. It also features an outsize raven to his right, which appears to be emerging from an open suitcase from which various manuscripts are also spilling. The statue faces the direction of the former site of his parents’ home, around the time he was born.
It is certainly a formidable-looking tribute that we can only be very impressed with here at custom bronze sculptures specialists Big Statues. Would Poe have been similarly wooed? Perhaps not, but maybe in some way, that doesn’t even matter to the rehabilitation of this legendary author in the minds of Bostonians.