Quotations From EDGAR ALLAN POE

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  • I must not only punish, but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.
    Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), U.S. author. The narrator, in "The Cask of Amontillado," Godey's Magazine and Lady's Book (1846). Revenge perfected into an art by the psychopathic Montresor.
  • The radiance was that of the full, setting, and blood-red moon, which now shone vividly through that once barely- discernible fissure,... extending from the roof of the building, in a zigzag direction, to the base. While I gazed, this fissure rapidly widened.
    Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), U.S. author. The narrator, in "The Fall of the House of Usher," Burton's Gentleman's Magazine (1839). A metaphor for the defloration of the deceased Madeline Usher.

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  • The writer who neglects punctuation, or mispunctuates, is liable to be misunderstood.... For the want of merely a comma, it often occurs that an axiom appears a paradox, or that a sarcasm is converted into a sermonoid.
    Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1845), U.S. poet, critic, short-story writer. repr. In Essays and Reviews (1984). "Marginalia," Graham's Magazine (Philadelphia, Feb. 1848).
  • I never can hear a crowd of people singing and gesticulating, all together, at an Italian opera, without fancying myself at Athens, listening to that particular tragedy, by Sophocles, in which he introduces a full chorus of turkeys, who set about bewailing the death of Meleager.
    Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1845), U.S. poet, critic, short-story writer. repr. In Essays and Reviews (1984). "Marginalia," Southern Literary Messenger (Richmond, Va., July 1849).

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  • To be thoroughly conversant with a Man's heart, is to take our final lesson in the iron-clasped volume of despair.
    Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1845), U.S. poet, critic, short-story writer. repr. In Essays and Reviews (1984). Marginalia, Southern Literary Messenger (Richmond, Va., June 1849).

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  • That man is not truly brave who is afraid either to seem or to be, when it suits him, a coward.
    Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1845), U.S. poet, critic, short-story writer. repr. In Essays and Reviews (1984). Marginalia, Graham's Magazine (Philadelphia, Dec. 1846).
  • To vilify a great man is the readiest way in which a little man can himself attain greatness.
    Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1845), U.S. poet, critic, short-story writer. repr. In Essays and Reviews (1984). "Marginalia," Southern Literary Messenger (Richmond, Virginia, July 1849).
  • The unity of effect or impression is a point of the greatest importance. It is clear, moreover, that this unity cannot be thoroughly preserved in productions whose perusal cannot be completed at one sitting.
    Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), U.S. author. Review of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Twice-Told Tales, Graham's Magazine (1842). Poe's famous dictum on literary composition.
  • Barnaby, the idiot, is the murderer's own son.
    Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), U.S. author. Review of Charles Dickens' Barnaby Rudge, Saturday Evening Post (1841). Solving the whodunit.

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  • I have no faith in human perfectability. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active—not more happy—nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago.
    Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1845), U.S. poet, critic, short-story writer. Letter, July 2, 1844, to poet and critic James Russell Lowell. quoted in Julian Symons, The Tell-Tale Heart: The Life and Works of Edgar Allan Poe, pt. 1, ch. 11 (1978).

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