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About the Creator and Performer

Mark Canada, PhD, is Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Professor of English at Indiana University Kokomo. As a scholar of American literature and journalism, he has published five books, including Literature and Journalism in Antebellum America (2011), and Thomas Wolfe Remembered (2018). His numerous essays have appeared in The Southern Quarterly, Edgar Allan Poe in Context, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and other outlets.
A 2008 recipient of the University of North Carolina’s prestigious Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching, Professor Canada has taught numerous courses in the American novel, American literature before 1865, literature and journalism, biblical literature, writing, and the history and structure of the English language. Since 2015, he has been the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Indiana University Kokomo, where he oversees all academic operations.

What listeners say about Edgar Allan Poe: Master of Horror

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Interesting but not what I was expecting

3 stars - I liked it

In these 10 lectures, Mark Canada dissects some of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous works. With heavy focus on the symbolism, imagery, rhythm and rhyme, and foreshadowing that Poe included in his stories and poetry, Canada relates that back to his own life and how it created such enthralling stories.

While this was very interesting,, I also had a few issues with it. First, if you liked dissecting literature in English class then you will probably like this. Unfortunately, I don’t like dissecting and picking apart stories. I read them to enjoy the stories, not to pick them apart for hidden symbolisms. Another issue was that the author, and narrator, would do a specific voice any time he read from Poe’s work, and it was very unflattering and annoying.

If you have not read the majority of Poe’s works, this discussion of them will most likely spoil what happens. So I recommend reading at least The Tell-Tale Heart, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Purloined Letter, The Raven, Ulalume and Annabel Lee before listening to this if you care about that. These are the ones that he discusses the most.

So if you are a Poe fan and you want to dive deep into the symbolism of his work and learn more about how his life influenced it, than you might enjoy this audiobook. But if you are going into this expecting a biography then look somewhere else.

5 people found this helpful

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Shallow analyses

I loved Poe, but this course did not add anything but a lot of platitudes. And I can not stand the bad actor’s reading from the tales. Sorry, but I stoped listening after the 7 lecture.

4 people found this helpful

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At long last! A great book on Poe

I've been looking for a good Edgar Allan Poe biography on Audible. I found one that was about three hours long--and that was okay. But this one is much much better.

The lecturer, Mark Canada, clearly loves America's dark genius and that enthusiasm keeps the lectures lively and fast-moving.

The first series of lectures give an overview of Poe's truly tragic life. An absentee dad, a dead mother and a prickly, disapproving "adopted" dad. His doomed and very young wife. And his die-hard enemy, Rufus Griswold, who took the occasion of Poe's early demise to begin a hatchet job on the author's reputation.

So Canada, like other recent biographers, also questions whether Poe was the inveterate drunkard history has led us to believe. Many theories have been aired that could explain Poe's troubled personal life, his relationship to the bottle and his particularly dark genius.

A good chunk of the book is devoted to Poe's creative works. Not all or even most of them--that would be a monumental task, even given Poe's short life--but familiar ones, like "The Pit and the Pendulum" and "The Fall of the House of Usher." And the lecturer nicely puts Poe and his work in a historical context, which reveals just how truly unique and influential his work was.

If you're looking for another gripping Great Courses series in literature, I'd recommend Michael Shelden's "George Orwell: A Sage for All Seasons." That one really blew me away.

4 people found this helpful

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Interesting and Entertaining

There were a few small spots of boring, but overall, it's a good review of this incredible author's life of turmoil and poverty. The theories about mental illness, alcoholism, and his death are well presented, as is Poe's influence on literature then, and now.

1 person found this helpful

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Very basic Poe bio

Seeing as this was one of few Poe bios available on Audible, I chose this book to listen just for the fun of it. It is a quick overview of his life and works, and makes a great intro for someone newly delving into Poe. I have read another biography of Poe before, so this one really felt like a skimming of the surface for me. It was enjoyable, however, to hear a different take on the classic author by a different source. The narrator had a way of reading quotes which came across as silly to me, using a faint-sounding, breathless, “woe is me” type of voice, but aside from that, he was interesting to hear speak.

1 person found this helpful

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Terrific

This was extremely well done. Being a horror author, a poet, songwriter, and so forth - I am super appreciative of the works of Edgar Alan Poe. I do feel that this lecture praised him very highly, leaving out any of the bad details about him of which I as a historian am aware. Still, it felt more like it was about his literary genius than anything else, so I give it high marks.

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Dull analysis of what should have been an interesting biography

Annoying focus on unimportant side topics and a bizarre effort to mimic Poe’s speaking voice made me finally give up on this dull lecture. Very disappointing, I was very interested in Poe’s life story and talents but will look elsewhere.

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A nice trip into the mind of a master

This is a well produced and well presented look at a life that is often remembered for specific highs and lows.

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Excruciating

Uses many words to say so little. Fails yet explain why Poe remains so highly rated in American literature.

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Overview of Biography and some works

The focus on Poe‘s biographie is interesting and it has an overview of many works.
I think the author reads too much relationship between life and work (in some cases it‘s interesting, in others it felt like a stretch ) and that he attributes too much seriousness to mockery.
Overall an interesting but superficial short „reading“.
Lecture 5:
Gothic satyre:
- How to write a Blackwood article
- A predicament

Early Horror:
- Berenice

Main focus of the chapter
- Manuscript in a bottle
- The fall of the House of Usher

Mention:
- Ligea

Lection 6:
- William Wilson
- The Mask of the Red Death

Lection 7:
- The Pit and the Pendulum
- Tell Tale Heart
- Cask of Amontillado

Lection 8: mistery novel/ detective story
- Murders in the Rue Morgue
- The purloined letter
- The mistery of Marie Roget

Lection 9: poems of loss
- The raven
- Ulalume
- Annabel Lee

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  • Raven Stone
  • 02-02-22

Terrible narration

There's nothing new or insightful in these lectures. Quoting Alannis Morrisette "Ironic" to illustrate irony is, perhaps, unconsciously ironic. The narrator's voice is okay for a while but when he's reading quotes, he adopts a breathless, overly dramatic tone which quickly becomes incredibly annoying. You won't learn much about Poe or his works from this. Better to spend half an hour on Wikipedia.