Who was the original literary emo: Emily Dickinson or Edgar Allan Poe? | The Tylt

Who was the original literary emo: Emily Dickinson or Edgar Allan Poe?

People are under the impression that emo culture is a relatively modern fad. This isn’t entirely true: tuberculosis and opium addiction let loose a generation of artists that would without a doubt have VampireFreaks accounts today. One of them was Emily Dickinson, a recluse whose works bleed with existential crises; another was Edgar Allan Poe, who pined for lost loved via dark storylines and laudanum. Between the two literary greats, who was the OG emo?  

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Who was the original literary emo: Emily Dickinson or Edgar Allan Poe?
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Who was the original literary emo: Emily Dickinson or Edgar Allan Poe?
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#EmoDickinson

Emily Dickinson was born in Massachusetts during the nineteenth century, which doesn’t exactly sound like it would lead to a life of nonconformity. But don’t worry—she made up for it. Recognized by her teachers as a literary prodigy, Dickinson was deemed “Queen Recluse” due to her preference to hang out in her ancestral home as opposed to interacting with people.  

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She consistently avoided large social gatherings and revered solitude, a quality reflective of the isolation she felt. This isolation stemmed from religious views which differed from those around her, as well as the tepid romantic relationship she faced with someone only referred to as “Master." Dickinson was also surrounded by the deaths of those she loved, and felt death so intensely she mourned the loss of her favorite authors

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It comes as no shock that Death himself stars in Dickinson’s poetry. Themes of isolation, too, permeate her work, although what many may not realize upon first read is how darkly humorous much of her material is. It makes one wonder whether she’d appreciate her poetry’s publication after her death, or the emo image now tied to her legacy. 

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Everyone knows Edgar Allan Poe on some level. The shallow version barely-remembered from English class is that he wrote about a raven and was afraid of pits (or something). But Poe was far more alternative than all that, especially for his time. 

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Also born in Massachusetts, Poe was consistently plagued by one tragedy after another. Orphaned at an early age, the two main themes running throughout the writer’s life were addiction and financial instability. There were some bright lights that shone in the darkness (such as his marriage to his beloved cousin), although these were short lived (she died). His poems and short stories are macabre tales filled with characters tortured by torn psyches or faced with their own sins. Needless to say, he didn’t approach life cheerfully.

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Poe died in Baltimore at the age of forty. He was a deeply troubled, depressed soul who left behind works that frightened people with their supernatural qualities and their all-too-real characters. Most emo of all, Poe opined that, “the death…of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world.” Least emo of all, “Annabel Lee” isn’t about some chick that’s ignoring him because she’s too shallow. 

FINAL RESULTS
Culture
Who was the original literary emo: Emily Dickinson or Edgar Allan Poe?
#EmoDickinson
A festive crown for the winner
#EmoAllanPoe