To go with my online class Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World, I started a series of posts listing companion materials in pop culture, preferably ones that are a little forgotten, have not received the attention I think they deserve, or take an unusual angle. All the better if they are available online, double-plus for free.
These are the ones I propose to accompany this week’s readings: Nathaniel Hawthorne‘s short stories “The Birthmark,” “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” and “The Artist of the Beautiful,” found in Mosses from an Old Manse, and “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment,” found in Twice-Told Tales; and Edgar Allan Poe‘s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Black Cat,” “The Oval Portrait,” “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” “The Bells,” “The Raven,” and “Annabel Lee,” found in The Portable Poe.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never enjoyed Hawthorne; he worries way too much about sin for my taste. Besides, I like the writings of Poe, Mark Twain and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and all three were critical of Hawthorne’s writings. Nowadays, there just aren’t many references about Hawthorne in pop culture; in fact he was rather, uh, prophylactic to pop culture.
- Thankfully, Kate Beaton of the webcomic Hark, A Vagrant has us covered (“The Scarlet Letter”, middle of the page.)
- There is also a Tumblr tag with Hawthorne pop references.
- Here is Edgar Allan Poe himself, giving Hawthorne mixed praise in a review in Godey’s Lady’s Book, November 1847.
- Nathaniel Hawthorne’s writings and related articles on Unz.org.
There is, on the contrary, a lot of Poe pop references to comic books.
- The Atlantic has an interesting article on the topic, “Pop Culture’s Undying Obsession with Edgar Allan Poe.”
- Tumblr tag for Edgar Allan Poe
- Poe also appears on Kate Beaton’s Hark, A Vagrant, with Jules Verne.
- Poe’s poem “The Raven” was featured in The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror on the show’s second season (and the Treehouse of Horror would become an annual feature.)
- Wikipedia has pages on pop culture, on television and movies, and even on music that were influenced by, or based on, Poe’s writings.
- Vincent, a Poe-inspired short animation by Tim Burton, with narration read by, who else, Vincent Price (1982).
- Musical interlude: several of Poe’s poems have been set to music. Here are “Annabel Lee” as sung by James Johnston and by Joan Baez; Phil Och’s version of “The Bells”; and Basil Rathbone reciting “The Raven” to music by Olivier Messian.
- Christopher Walken reads “The Raven.”
- There are two opera versions of “The Fall of the House of Usher”: one in French by Claude Debussy, “La Chute de la maison Usher”, unfortunately left unfinished (ignore the spelling on the YouTube, the poster obviously doesn’t speak French), and one in English by Philip Glass — here is an excerpt.
- Edgar Allan Poe’s writings and related works on Unz.org, including short films.
By the way, Poe died in mysterious circumstances at the age of 40. Given that he was a pedophile (hey, he even married his 13-year-old cousin when he was 29), I don’t care how good a writer he was — I don’t mourn his early death.