Book Review: Edgar Allan Poe: The Ambiguity of Death by Giuseppe Cafiero

Title: Edgar Allan Poe: The Ambiguity of Death Author: Giuseppe Cafiero
Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher: Australian eBook Publishers
Release Date: September 13, 2015
Format: Kindle
Pages: 192
Source: NetGalley
Rating: Abandoned

Giuseppe Cafiero presents the most intriguing biography of one of America’s most enduring writers: poet, author and critic Edgar Allan Poe. The beloved master of mystery and the macabre, Poe’s life and work is explored through the creation of memories, recriminations, intense loves and of delicate devotions.

Using the form of literary nonfiction, Cafiero successfully structures this memoir in the style of a traditional fiction narrative. Introducing the reader to the character, The Reporter, whose story is a mirror in which it’s possible to contemplate what is unreasonably hidden and infinitely ambiguous in the existence and in the writing of Edgar Allan Poe.

After Poe’s infamous death, the reporter attempts to investigate the life and writing of Poe by attending a meeting at the Old Swan Tavern in Richmond. Invited to the interview is archrival Reverend Rufus Wilmot Griswold and one of the last to see Poe before his death, Dr J. Evans Snodgrass. The reporter not only discovers the accusations of life filled with alcoholism, opium addiction, violence and womanising but also begins to understand that this painful dark existence is not the antithesis to great writing. This is confirmed when the investigation continues with the meeting of an array of people by the reporter who divulge more information on the life of Poe and why many became the protagonists in his stories.

This surreal bio-fiction of the life of nineteenth century American writer, father of detective fiction, Edgar Allan Poe, brings to life a solidly constructed psychological portrait of the writer through the characters in his works. Each of the stories is accompanied by the gloriously gothic Illustrations by acclaimed Italian artist Sergio Poddighe.

Perhaps this is the only way to pay tribute to a writer who has indelibly marked the nineteenth century.


Normally, I’d have put this book as a rating of Abandoned because I abandoned it, but honestly, the book was horrible. The book reads like a grade school essay. It’s disjointed, disconnected, and nearly impossible to make sense of.

I requested to read this book because I love Edgar Allan Poe. I thought this was supposed to be some sort of biography of Edgar Allan Poe. Instead what I got was a mishmash of nonsense that related to his life but made no sense.

The author jumps around from person to person who supposedly knew Poe, trying to gather pieces of his life in what I assume is an attempt to make a timeline of his life and possibly to figure out why he wrote what he did. The problem is, none of it makes a bit of sense. While this may be due in part to the book having been translated to English from another language, I honestly cannot recommend this book to anyone.

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

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