Gaiman on Poe: read him aloud!

Barnes and Noble's published a new Edgar Allan Poe edition in honor of the man's bicentennial. Neil Gaiman wrote a great intro to the volume, with some sage advice for appreciating Poe -- read him aloud. Damn straight. Neil recommends the excellent Vincent Price/Basil Rathbone Poe CD set, and I second that advice. I named my kid after Poe(sy), I should know!

Poe isn't for everyone. He's too heady a draught for that. He may not be for you. But there are secrets to appreciating Poe, and I shall let you in on one of the most important ones: read him aloud.

Read the poems aloud. Read the stories aloud. Feel the way the words work in your mouth, the way the syllables bounce and roll and drive and repeat, or almost repeat. Poe's poems would be beautiful if you spoke no English (indeed, a poem like "Ulalume" remains opaque even if you do understand English -- it implies a host of meanings, but does not provide any solutions). Lines which, when read on paper, seem overwrought or needlessly repetitive or even mawkish, when spoken aloud reshape and reconfigure.

Some Strangeness in the Proportion: The Exquisite Beauties of Edgar Allan Poe.

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