How did Poe really die?

Cool. This is like a literary version of CSI. Now before I grab myself a copy of The Poe Shadow, I should probably get around to reading the poetry-themed Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land by John Crowley, which I picked up when I was last in Montreal. I've seriously gotten behind in my fiction reading. I just don't have a lot of time to devote to novels these days. Oh well, maybe during the winter break...

From The New York Observer:

Last year, the writer Matthew Pearl published a novel called The Poe Shadow, in which a young lawyer sets out to solve one of the great enduring mysteries of American literary history: What killed Edgar Allan Poe? Like his protagonist, Mr. Pearl was fascinated by the question, which has vexed scholars ever since the great man died in 1849 at the age of 40, in a Baltimore hospital after being discovered, distraught and incoherent, in a local tavern.

Mr. Pearl had wanted to write a novel exploring the mystery. But he never expected to uncover actual evidence that could help solve it.

There are numerous competing theories about the Mr. Poe’s death—the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, even has an exhibit dedicated to all of them. Some Poe experts believe it was the result of drink. Others think he had rabies. A few argue he was poisoned by corrupt political operatives. But Mr. Pearl—a 32-year-old graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School, whose 2003 debut, the international best seller The Dante Club, prompted Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown to declare him, “the new star of literary fiction”—told The Observer recently that he has unearthed new information that suggests a less sensational answer: Mr. Poe, it seems, may have died of a brain tumor.

More here.

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