Let us raise a raven’s feather instead of a birthday cake to Edgar Allan Poe, the maestro of macabre. January 19th marked the birthday of this literary giant, whose dark and mysterious tales continue to thrill and terrify readers to this day. Beyond mere chills, his tales, as S.L. Varnado (author of Haunted Presence: The Numinous in Gothic Fiction) delves into the “numinous” – quests for the sublime hidden in shadows.
Imagine haunted mansions echoing cosmic wails (“Fall of the House of Usher”) or forbidden realms unlocked by obsession (“Ligeia”). This “numinous” isn’t just scary; it’s awe-inspiring, a brushstroke of the sacred on terror’s canvas. Even the raven’s mournful cry whispers of something beyond sorrow.
Poe’s characters, grappling with forbidden knowledge and confronting the ineffable, become vessels for this uncanny encounter. They waltz with madness, hoping to emerge with the gold of understanding, even if it means sacrificing sanity.
But beware, the numinous isn’t all moonlit serenades. Poe explores where the sacred twists monstrous, as in “Morella,” where love that transcends death becomes a chilling possession.
This dance between beauty and terror is Poe’s genius. He doesn’t shy from the abyss, returning with tales that shimmer with unearthly light and cast long shadows on the soul.
To truly understand Poe, delve into Varnado’s Haunted Presence, a map through the gothic corridors of Poe’s psyche and the uncharted landscapes of the unseen.
So, this Poe Month, raise a toast not just to the master of horror, but to the explorer of the uncanny, the alchemist of the soul. Read Poe, lose yourself in the shadows where beauty and terror kiss, and the numinous whispers. Just remember, keep one eye open when turning the page.
Haunted Presence: The Numinous in Gothic Fiction reveals the intersection of Gothic literature and contemporary theories about the psychology of religious experience, positing that the two share the concept of the numinous, the human response of awe in the face of the eternal