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The Poe Shadow: A Novel

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The Poe Shadow: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780812970128
ISBN10: 0812970128
Condition: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

1. Aside from Quentin, most of the novels characters in this 1849 setting do not appreciate or read Edgar Allan Poe's works, and this fact in part provokes Quentin to try and rescue Poe's name. Why do you think Poe means so much to Quentin?

2. If you have read Poe, what are your thoughts about his work? Is there any author, from past or present, whom you would "fight" for as much as Quentin does for Poe?

3. In addition to serving as physical locales, Baltimore and Paris may be said to serve as "characters" in the book. What do the cities add to the novel, and what kinds of details bring alive their histories?

4. As the historical note at the back of the novel explains, the book uses authentic details about Poe's strange death. Had you heard anything about Poe's death before reading The Poe Shadow? After reading the evidence and theories throughout the novel, do you agree with all of the conclusions presented by the characters in the final chapters, or do you have any of your own theories?

5. Auguste Duponte and Baron Claude Dupin can be seen as doubles or doppelgangers, and the book discusses Poe's use of doubles in works such as "William Wilson," a tale that features two identical characters with the same names. Discuss the use of doubles and doubling in The Poe Shadow. Are there any other doubles besides Duponte and Dupin? Does Quentin have any doubles? Does Edgar Allan Poe?

6. The word "shadow" is used in many different ways in the novel. Quentin tells us, "Poe once wrote in a tale about the conflict between the substance and the shadow inside of us. The substance, what we know we should do, and the shadow, the dangerous and giggling Imp of the Perverse, the dark knowledge of what we must or will do or secretly want. The shadow always prevails." What are possible meanings of the title The Poe Shadow?

7. If you had been in Quentin's position at the end of the novel, would you have made the information on Poe's death public, or kept it private?

8. What do you think would have happened if Quentin had met Poe before Poe died? Do you think this would have made his personal quest more or less important to him?

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Andrea Cumbo, October 21, 2010 (view all comments by Andrea Cumbo)
At present, I’m listening to Matthew Pearl’s The Poe Shadow and finding it quite intriguing, if subtle. The basic premise is that Quentin Clark, a lawyer from Baltimore, is trying to solve the mystery of Edgar A. Poe’s (he refuses to use the name Allan because Poe’s father “Mr. Allan” disowned him when Poe got into debt) death at a pub in Baltimore City. To do so, he seeks out the infamous C. Auguste Dupin, the Holmes-inspiring detective from several of Poe’s stories, who he believes to be based on a real person. The novel is a mix of mystery and quasi-historical fiction where Pearl’s massive research skills really come to life. Plus, since I still (for the next 8 days) live in Baltimore, I love hearing street names that I recognize.
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peter in port, August 24, 2009 (view all comments by peter in port)
Matthew Pearl undoubtedly loves the author Edgar Allen Poe. The sheer amount of scholastic effort that went into this novel is impressive. Unfortunately, it does not come off as terribly readable or interesting. Pearl should have hired a good editor.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780812970128
Author:
Pearl, Matthew
Publisher:
Random House Trade
Subject:
General
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - General
Subject:
Authors, American
Subject:
Death
Subject:
Mystery fiction
Subject:
Baltimore (Md.)
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Mystery-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
Reprint ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
July 10, 2007
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
416
Dimensions:
8 x 5.1 x 0.85 in 0.7 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z

The Poe Shadow: A Novel Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$2.50 In Stock
Product details 416 pages Random House Trade - English 9780812970128 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Fans of Pearl's bestselling debut, The Dante Club (2003), will eagerly embrace his second novel, a compelling thriller centered on the mysterious end of Edgar Allan Poe, who perished in Baltimore in 1849. Poe's ignominious funeral catches the notice of Quentin Clark, a young, idealistic attorney, who finds himself obsessed with rescuing Poe's reputation amid rumors that the writer died from an excess of drink. Clark's preoccupation soon becomes all-consuming, imperiling his practice and his engagement, especially after he learns that Poe's legendary master sleuth, the Chevalier Auguste Dupin, was modeled after a real person. The lawyer journeys to France to track down the real Dupin, in the hopes that the detective can help him solve the puzzle of Poe's death. Pearl masterfully combines fact with fiction and presents some genuinely new historical clues that help reconstruct Poe's final days. While Clark remains a little enigmatic, the exciting plot, numerous twists and convincing period detail could help land this on bestseller lists as well. Author tour. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "The Poe Shadow works well on two levels: It's effective history, sure to please fans of Edgar Allan Poe, and also it can stand alone as a fine piece of mystery writing, brimming with suspense. This dual reward is a testament to Pearl's skill in making 19th-century facts come alive in a taut story line that delivers entertainment as well as insight."
"Review" by , "Like Louis Bayard's The Pale Blue Eye...The Poe Shadow cannot quite overcome the fact that it is...an emulation of the style of the real person being fictionalized. But both books are still ingenious works with a rich knowledge of Poe's life. (Grade: B)"
"Review" by , "Pearl, who shows no signs of a sophomore slump in this work, continues to dazzle with his imagination and skill. One can't wait to see what he'll do next."
"Review" by , "This is similar to Pearl's Dante Club, which portrayed renowned authors trailing a serial killer, in its masterful blend of historical and fictional figures, meticulous research, and nineteenth-century literary style."
"Review" by , "Pearl demonstrates a clear mastery of Poe mythology and uses his knowledge of 1850s Baltimore to excellent effect. Clark is a bit of a bumbler, and the various denouements tend to be ponderous. Still, this literary historical mystery should please fans; highly recommended."
"Review" by , "Regrettably, Mr. Pearl's prose style is not quite as rewarding as his research....What the book does with crushing accuracy is capture the heights of madness and devotion that Poe may have inspired in his time."
"Review" by , "Its premise is irresistible....A few surprises aside, however, too little of substance happens, and Pearl's virtually bloodless characters never engage our interest. A disappointing successor to Pearl's terrific first novel."
"Review" by , "The Poe Shadow fails to deliver a sufficiently compelling story to engage a wide audience. Pearl is a skilled and imaginative new writer, but his best book to date is his first novel and not his second."
"Review" by , "The Poe Shadow doesn't have the entertainingly lurid serial-killer plot of The Dante Club, but it does have charnel-houses, grave robbers, a dank prison and Malacca canes with swords in them. Poe would have liked it."
"Synopsis" by , Quentin Clark, an ardent admirer of Edgar Allan Poes work, puts his own career and reputation at risk in a passionate crusade to salvage Poes. Following his phenomenal debut, "The Dante Club," Pearl has again created a beautifully detailed, ingeniously plotted tale of suspense.
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