A Bloody Good Show

A Bloody Good Show

The walls of The Morgan Library & Museum drip with blood—that’s blood as in blood-red paint. The Morgan Stanley Gallery East has been saturated in vermilion, a fitting tribute to the star of the major exhibition, Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul, on view thru Jan. 26.

This is a bloody good show, filled with examples of Poe’s poetry, fiction and criticism, drawn from The Morgan’s own collection and The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature at The New York Public Library; a private collector of Poe has also loaned several treasures.

Poe (1809-1849) needed to earn his living by his pen (and wits), and he did so. Considering how prolific he was, it’s remarkable how well his handwriting held up. He had a clear, beautiful penmanship. Consequently, all manuscripts here are completely legible, a rarity among exhibitions of manuscripts, and a great encouragement to linger over the displays. Amazing to read “Annabel Lee” in the author’s own hand. Amazing, too, to see the first printing of “The Fall of the House of Usher” and learn about Poe’s influence on Charles Dickens, Baudelaire and Stephen King. Daguerreotypes complete the portrait of the artist, who died mysteriously (would he have had it any other way?) at age 40.

The best compliment I can pay the exhibition is that it whetted my appetite to reacquaint myself with the writer. Fortunately, The Morgan Shop, one of the city’s finest museum stores, has been well stocked with volumes by and about Poe. I bought two collections of stories and poems: great bedtime reading.

>> The Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison Ave., 212.685.0008

Photo: Edgar Allan Poe, © Eduard Prüssen