Experiencing a Piece of the American Canon: Poe and “The Premature Burial”

Edgar Allan Poe is considered to be part of the American Canon. His works has been interpreted and reinterpreted over multiple generations starting from the 19th century. Americans have read Poe’s works and it has resonated with each time period in a different way. This print annotated edition of “The Premature Burial” attempts to give the reader as close to an unbiased experience as possible. This annotation attempts to achieve this by having the same text repeated, with the former having no annotations and the latter having annotations. The first read provides the reader with an honest reading of Poe’s work. Recreate an experience that Poe’s readers would have had when this piece was published everyone can have their own interpretations, regardless of when they read this annotated piece. The second read of the story, accompanied with annotations, aims to assist the reader in understanding the words or phrases Poe uses that may not be as obvious to a modern reader. This version of Poe is designed so that readers are not compelled to leave the work by attempting to search a word or phrase that is unfamiliar to them. Poe has expressed in “The Theory of Composition” that it was critical for people to finish a reading in one sitting. This version of “The Premature Burial” attempts to give the experience of Poe in a single read. It also bridges the gap between the past and present and allow readers who may not be familiar with Poe, begin to digest his works. This will ultimately help Poe’s legacy by allowing contemporary readers to join in on interpreting Poe.
**As the title suggests “The Premature Burial” could be seen as a manifestation of taphophobia (the fear of being buried alive) that, at the time, was a common fear. Safety coffins were created to alleviate these anxieties by providing coffins with mechanisms that would help victims escape their premature burial.


Image result for safety coffin

This mechanism would allow a victim to ring a bell while inside their coffin, notifying anyone who was around.

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