Aside from his success in terms of publications, Edgar Allan Poe is also a recipient of major awards in the world of literature. He was also admired because of his dedication to his work as he is considered to be one of the first to depend financially on writing alone. As a testament to Edgar Allan Poes literary greatness, many writers, not to mention world renowned writers, had openly admitted that they were heavily influenced, some are even admitting they are imitators, by the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Among these writers that were influenced by Edgar Allan Poe are William Faulkner, Franz Kafka, and Joyce Carol Oates.
For us to have a guiding idea in this exploration of the influence of Edgar Allan Poe in the writing style of the three other great authors, let us first review the writing style of Edgar Allan Poe so that we would know what we would be looking for in the works of the three great authors. His works are described to be full of gruesome images and mystery. (Pollin 6)
Poes influence on William Faulkner
William Faulkner is a well known American author in his own right. Just like Poe, he is even regarded as one of the greatest American Writers that had the most influence during his time, the twentieth century. He writing style is known for being intricate in terms of cadence and diction. The influence of Edgar Allan Poe in the works of William Faulkner is concerned more with both of the great writers, as critic Kay Boyle puts it immunity from literary fashion (Boyle)
To put it in simpler terms Faulkner is influenced by Poes reluctance to adhere towards trends in literature. Both great writers would not aim for the flavor-of-the-month type of literary works. That is why their works became classics and still echoing up until now and continuing to transcend generations. There are also similarities in terms of themes of their stories like vengeance for honor, schizophrenia, and of course, violence. (Pollin 243)
The influence of Edgar Allan Poe is revealed in these two works of William Faulkner, Light in August and The Sound and the Fury. In Light in August, Faulkner had employed a literary device that Poe had first incorporated in his story The Murders in the Rue Morgue. Both stories have a scene that involves a messy cutting of the human throat.
On the other hand, The Literary device that William Faulkner had used in his story The Sound and the Fury can be traced as a recurring theme of the works of Edgar Allan Poe”it is also found in Poes personal life. Poe had married his first cousin just like the characters Caddy Compson and Quentin Compson in The Sound and the Fury. It seems like both these two great authors are fond of the theme of young maidens and the sensitive theme of incest seems to have caught their interest. (Pollin 146)
Poes influence on Franz Kafka
Moving on to the next author, we have another renowned and influential in his own right, Franz Kafka. He who was born in Prague and he is a writer who writes in the German language. Franz Kafka is regarded as the most successful and known writer from the area of Prague. Franz Kafkas writing could be best described as an expression of alienation of man in the modern world. The success of Kafka as a writer had transcended mere publications; Kafka has a large cult-like following even up to this day.
The influence of Edgar Allan Poe is very much evident in one of Kafkas most notable works, the story entitled The Metamorphosis. There are subtle similarities in writing style but the motif of horror and mystery shows Edgar Allan Poes influence on Franz Kafkas narration of the story. The most striking resemblance of Kafka and Poe is their expression of their sort of disturbed but genius minds.
Some literary critics argue that Franz Kafkas story entitled The Penal Colony is inspired by Edgar Allan Poes story entitled The Pit and the Pendulum. Both story had painted the image of legal justice with strokes of mystery and horror. Other critics see the two stories as a link between the two great authors. These critics argue that both narratives of The Penal Colony and The Pit and the Pendulum are just expressions of the relatively negative traits that Kafka and Poe share like being loners, miserable, and self-absorbed. (Sullivan)
To further expound on Edgar Allan Poes influence on Franz Kafka, the regarded best writer from Prague had even expressed his comments on the tragic life that Poe had gone through. Kafka had said that the alcohol over-dependence of Poe resulted from Poes regard to himself as an individual who was defenseless against the world. Kafka even admits that Edgar Allan Poe is one of his inspirations in writing. (Sullivan)
Poes influence on Joyce Carol Oates
Another great author that was influenced by Edgar Allan Poe is American writer and professor Joyce Carol Oates. Her style is much coined as gothic and she is considered as one of the most successful writers in terms of presenting spine-tingling stories. She uses the literary device of gothic to explore social issues in a subtle manner.
Just like Poe, her works are also lavished with horror sprinkled with a little spice of mystery. Critics would describe her works with descriptions that are familiarly used for Edgar Allan Poes works like the narration being claustrophobic that amplifies the horror of the plot. There are also similarities in choice of themes between the two great authors like the themes of the mystical, violence, and even incest.
There is no more need to isolate one work of Joyce Carol Oates to explore the influence of Poe in her writings as she had said herself in her non-fiction book The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art that she was deeply influenced by Poe. In fact she had expressed that she considers Poe as one of the best in her chosen genre of weird and horrific stories. (Oates 26)
Joyce Carol Oates will provide us a concluding statement for this paper. In her much acclaimed book Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque she had posed the question who has not been influenced by Edgar Allan Poe? (Guran)
It is really undeniable that Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most influential figures in literature of all time, as even other great and influential writers are admitting that they were influenced by the master of horror and mystery.
Burton Ralph Pollin. Poes Seductive Influence on Great Writers. Ontario: iUniverse. 2004
Guran, Paula. September 1999. JOYCE CAROL OATES: The Gothic Queen. April 14 2008 <
Oates, Joyce Carol. The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art. Minneapolis: Ecco. 2003
Sullivan, Erin. Winter 1999.A Writer of influence. April 14 2008