Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Want to See Naked Pictures of Edgar Allan Poe?



Of course you do. But that's not what I have. Instead I do have the seven-page record of Poe's court martial while he was a cadet at West Point in the 1830's. Below are the pages (which I found in the National Archives -- Thanks, government bureaucrats!) Page 5 details the first charge, which is Gross Neglect of Duty. Page 7 details the second charge, Disobedience of Orders.









The US Military Academy Library Bulletin has a 70-page report on Edgar Allan Poe's army career here. And it does include a saucy, completely unsubstantiated rumor about the charges against our favorite lunatic author:


Among other specifications, he neglected to report for parades and roll calls
thirteen times between 7 and 27 January and failed to attend church and class two times after having been ordered to do so...

There is at West Point an apocryphal story that once when orders for a parade uniform were announced as "white belts and gloves under arms," Poe appeared in formation clad in those alone.

The portrait of Poe during these years is fascinating. He was talented, but erratic and arrogant. And there is even some solid evidence that Poe was lying to his fellow classmates that he was descended from Benedict Arnold. A great writer and a strange, sad little man with an unfortunate moustache.

1 comment:

  1. I believe you have the honor of writing the most memorable blog post title I've seen in years.

    And as for the moustache, don't knock it--John Cusack is currently filming a movie where he plays Poe wearing a goatee, God help us.

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