A Poe Puzzle…

I guess I was caught up in the moment of writing about the Poe Toaster in my previous blog entry, that I completely forgot to mention a little personal Poe trivia.

I mentioned a leather-bound compendium of Poe’s works that I grew up with. The book belonged to my mum and dad, but as with a lot of their books, I always considered it “mine” more than “theirs”.

I loved that book. Reading it was an experience, not only for the contents, but the look and feel of the book. I could imagine that it was some old, dusty tome that I was the first to discover in decades, that I had discovered it huddled away in a corner of some dark, deserted antique bookstore, or in a private library of some crusty old aristocrat.

Those who went to school with me might remember that book. In my final year at high school I (briefly!) took SYS English, and my dissertation was going to be on Poe and his concept of “the perverse”, so the book was never far from me in my late teens.

Then, the book vanished. Not lost, this much we are certain. Vanished. When I dropped out of that class, I remember returning the book to its home on our bookshelf. Then, one day, it was gone. Not only was the book not there, there was not even a “missing volume of Poe” void left behind. Nature abhors a vacuum, and the other books in our collection abhorred the gap left behind, so shuffled together to close the gap. Poe, the leather, the gilt-edge – all gone.

It was not the sort of book that we loaned out to people – it was far too good for that. I was the last person to read it, and not only had I returned it, I remember seeing it on subsequent occasions before it disappeared.

This was not the first instance of a vanishing Poe in our lives. I had a children’s adaptation of some of his best stories. Had being the operative word. My brother bought a paperback collection of Poe’s stories for his wife. This was to replace her previous copy, which had mysteriously vanished. To be followed by the replacement copy.

I now own a new, leather-bound, gilt-edged, hardback collection of Poe’s short stories and poems, a birthday present from my in-laws. It lives on the second bottom shelf of my bookshelf, with other hardback books, but just above the oversized books. Every other day, I have a quick look at the shelf. Just to make sure that the book is still there.

I’m sure someday, somewhere, someone will tear down a wall of a house, and discover piled up behind there numerous copies and adaptations of Poe’s work, quietly gathering dust, waiting to be claimed. They’ll be sitting right beside the sherry…

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