Edgar A. Poe project

Our concept is to publish Poe's original texts (which are in the public domain) in combination with the images from our Edgar A. Poe Photo Project. This way, we hope to reach not only persons; like our other photo book, this edition is meant readers, who - next to the scary stories - would enjoysome very unusual images in a scary, grungy style.

Since Poe's stories and poems have a wide, international appeal, we think of both an English and a German edition, maybe French or Spanish as well.

Poe has been named the „most orginal and brilliant author of American letters“.[1] With his method of logical deduction, he is the father of the modern detective story. And with The Raven, he was the first American to write a significant poem. But best of all he is known for his gothic stories, circling about horror, obsession and death. Poe's characters do not simply pass away Rather, they continue to exercise power from beyond or even return from the grave. Morella is reborn in her daughter, Ligeia rises from Rowena's bed, Madeline Usher leaves her coffin to knock on Roderick's door[2] and the heart of the old man with the vulture eye keeps beating beneath the floor planks. Equally, the murdered wife, hidden behind a wall, makes herself known through her black cat. Metzengerstein's enemy Berlifitzinger returns in the shape of a horse in order to take revenge. In her painted portrait, the deceased model remains forever young. The corpse of his wife causes Wyatt to perish in the waves and even after Berenice's burial, her shiny teeth have a fatal influence on the narrator. Orphaned at the age of two, later confronted with the death of his fosther mother Frances, of his young wife Virginia and of her mother Maria, his father's sister, Poe must have felt both guilt and rage towards the women who bereft him of support and warmth by their untimeley demise. As J. Gerald Kennedy shows, both conflicting emotions are reflected in Poe's uncanny narratives.[3]

From Poe's works, we have selected those with the strongest visual impact: The Gold Bug, demonstrating his rationalising style, three Italian stories (The Cask of Amontillado, The Assignation and The Masque of the Red Death), all major gothic horror tales, the satire Some Words with a Mummy and the adventure A Descent into the Maelström. Last but not least: Five key poems throwing a light on the author's personality and his attitude towards the women idealised in his verse: Alone,Eulalie,To Helen,The Raven and The Bells.

Following my passion for the female nude, most male roles are interpreted by female performers, not burdened by too much textile. After the start in the autumn of the year 2008, over thirty models from all over Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic were involved and several retouching teams have given their best to „assemble“ the characters from detail shots taken with digital Hasselblad cameras. In the case of „Ligeia“, I have found inspiration in a masterly illustration by Harry Clarke.[4] In all other instances, the author's precise descriptions were the sole basis of our images, condensing the plot into a single moment of crisis. Since in Poe's fiction, death mingles with life, night with day, madness with sanity, in the final post production we have adopted a grunge approach blurring the exact boundaries of background and protagonists by means of textured layers. As a standard format, we have chosen 1.5 x 2 meters at 300 dpi, so that we are also able to provide very large pictures for exhibitions and poster prints.

Hans Corneel de Roos, in September 2011

[1] Barger, Andrew, Edgar Allan Poe - Annotated & Illustrated Entire Stories & Poems. Memphis, TN: Bottletree Books, 2008, p. 19.
[2] Arguably, Madeline is the first She-Vampire in letters, pre-dating le Fanu's „Carmilla“. The narrator shows the same state of mind as later Jonathan Harker, fleeing from the doomed castle 
in Stoker's „Dracula“ . Cf. Kendall, Lyle H., Jr. The Vampire Motif in 'The Fall of the House of Usher', College English 24, 1963, pp. 450-53. Vampirism also seems to be a motif in „Berenice“,
„Ligeia“ and „Morella“, featuring prominent teeth, pale skin, cold hands, hypnotic will-power, etc.
[3] Kennedy, Gerald J., Poe, „Ligeia“ and the Problem of Dying
Women, in: Silvermann, K. ed., New Essays on Poe's Major Tales, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, pp. 113-129.
[4] Menges, Jeff A., Poe Illustrated - Art by Doré, Dulac, Rackham and Others. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2007, p. 24.