Influence of Edgar Allan Poe/ Open Lines

Hosted byGeorge Noory

Influence of Edgar Allan Poe/ Open Lines

About the show

In the first half of the show, long-time scholar, Leslie S. Klinger, discussed his latest project which showcases the work of authors who were inspired by the masterful tales of terror penned by Edgar Allan Poe. Klinger recalled examining the realm of nineteenth century literature and being surprised to find a number of writers that produced compelling works which, over time, became "lost in the shadow of Poe's greatness." He cited more obscure authors like E.T.A. Hoffman, Ambrose Bierce, and Robert Chambers as writers who were likely influenced by Poe's adroit use of the short story form for horror fiction. Klinger stressed that, while he continues to capture the imagination of readers to this day, "those who admire Poe need to find out that there's more out there."

Although scary tales condensed in a short format find their roots in early human history as part of the Bible and collections of Greek and Roman tales, Klinger observed that they seemed to dwindle over time because publishing was more difficult and often focused on "serious books." However, at the turn of the 18th century, publishing technology improved and allowed for the emergence of gothic style literature into pop culture. With the widespread proliferation of newspapers and magazines as well as the advent of the railroad, short stories became the ideal format for writers hoping to reach an audience. "It was perfect for a train ride," he marveled, "you could read the story going to or coming from work." Klinger observed that this confluence of events, coupled with his prodigious skills as a writer, are what led to Poe setting the standard for his contemporaries and influencing a generation of authors.


During Open Lines, a number of callers shared their Halloween memories. Mike in Oregon reminisced about a woman who would dress as a witch while her husband read scary stories for visitors to their home. One year, Mike and his friends stopped at the house and heard the tale of the headless horseman. As they were wrapping up their trick or treating that night, the group suddenly heard hoofbeats that sounded like they were coming towards them. Certain that they were about to become victims of the famed phantasm, Mike and his friends ran away in terror. Virginia in Florida recounted her childhood experience celebrating Halloween while living at a Hawaiian naval base. Since there were only a few children living there, she laughed, adults in the housing area didn't distribute candy and, instead, gave all the kids money.

Later in the evening, Allie in Indiana shared a ghost story with the Coast listeners. She detailed how her friend was forced to move out of her trailer because "weird stuff kept happening there" such as break-ins at the location. One night, in an effort to catch these ne'er-do-wells, Allie and her friend decided to stake out the location from her car. As they were waiting and watching the property, she suddenly felt like someone was behind her, so she looked in the rearview mirror and spotted a man sitting directly behind her friend. Despite being terrified, Allie forced herself to look in the backseat and saw that no one was there. Upon coming to that realization, she insisted that they leave as soon as possible and sped away from the area. When she subsequently explained to her friend what had happened, Allie learned that the 'person' she saw matched perfectly with the woman's husband ... who had died a year earlier.

News segment guests: Peter Breggin & Peter Davenport

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