The works of Edgar Allan Poe have become synonymous with suspense, horror, and macabre but there was another side to his work, one that many refer to as Dark Romanticism. First coined by the literary theorist Mario Praz in his 1930 study of the genre, "The Romantic Agony’’, Dark Romanticism reflected the popular fascination with the irrational, the demonic and the grotesque as emblematic of human nature. The use of demons, ghouls, and other supernatural elements in Poe’s work were haunting reminders of a world without laws or rules. They served as metaphors of a tortured soul who used his personal pain to create beautifully dark worlds where the universal questions of life, death, revenge, and guilt still ring true today. It is because of these universal elements that so many of today’s artists and writers still find inspiration in the works of Poe.
Most modern interpretations of his work have focused on the horrific side of his genius. This resulted in a harsher interpretation than what was created by artists such as Edmund Dulac and W. Heath Robinson in the early 1900s. Their work predated the genre of horror and they approached Poe’s work from a classical background of dark beauty and mysticism that has been lost in modern interpretations.
Matt Hughes channeled this perspective of dark beauty for the haunting illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe: This and Nothing More Illuminated Edition.
The forward of the book is written by Chris Semtner, Curator of the Edgar Allan Poe Museum of Richmond, Virginia.
"Art Nouveau meets Edgar Poe in Matt Hughes’s new illustrations that perfectly pair the organic forms, subtle coloration, and exquisite lines of the Belle Époque with the beauty, music, and rich symbolism of Poe’s poems."- Chris Semtner
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