“No Direction Home”: The Itinerant Life of Edgar Poe
This chapter takes a broad view of Poe places. While it has never been adequately foregrounded by biographers, Poe’s itinerancy might well be the key to understanding his tumultuous life and, to a great extent, his work. In childhood and adolescence, Poe had little or no choice in the matter of relocations; as an adult, he was motivated primarily by poverty, literary ambition, and concern for his wife’s health. Drawing on geographer Yi-Fu Tuan’s axes of “cosmos” and “hearth,” this chapter posits Poe as a cosmopolitan less by choice than by lifelong circumstance. Not surprisingly, then, Poe’s tales, when they depict “home” at all, often counter Antebellum ideals of domestic tranquillity.