Throwback Thursday, while around since as early as 2003, has become widely adopted on social media over the past year, particularly on the photo-sharing site Instagram. The concept is simple: users post old pictures—sometimes only a few days old, sometimes a few decades—to evoke a sense of nostalgia. Lucky for us at Commonweal, we’re 89 years old and have tons of old, archived throwbacks – that’d we’d now like to share with you.
Paid subscribers have access to the scores of archived material on our website, but we have even more in bound books lining the walls of our office. Starting this week, we will be posting articles from our historic archives that aren’t available on the site—as well as poems, videos, photos, and more.
This past week marked the 164th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s death, so naturally, we at Commonweal are musing on the relevance of a man whose work was published nearly two centuries ago. We know about his life, his literary work, and his genius. We know about his tragedy, poverty, and addictions. We also know he is the only poet who has a U.S. professional athletic team named after one of his works—the Baltimore Ravens. And to top it all off, Poe’s chilling stories of two centuries ago remain relevant alongside the top writers of today. Why is his work still so compelling?
To start Throwback Thursday, here is a review of Israfel: The Life and Times of Edgar Allan Poe by Hervey Allen, written by Padraic Colum in the August 24, 1927 issue of Commonweal.
“Poe’s work meant not only labor—it meant heroism. For a man to have produced such work as he produced, in spite of illness, disappointment, lack of appreciation, great sorrow, and the debility brought on by indulgence in opium, required an effort as heroic as an air-flight from New York to Paris. And there were no prizes to be received, no crowds to cheer, when the effort had been accomplished.”
To read three other reviews of Edgar Allan Poe’s work published in Commonweal between 1931 and 1947, download the tablet edition of the October 11th issue on your tablet or smartphone. Click here for more details.