The SHANNON MUIR’S INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS column on Mondays and Wednesdays is a place at Shannon Muir’s author website showcasing books from a variety of fiction genres, with an emphasis on interviews and guest posts from other authors. One thing Shannon firmly believes in for readers not only to learn about new books available, but about those who craft the tales behind them. As its name implies, SHANNON MUIR’S INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS weekly column features writers from all genres of fiction who want their potential audience to get to know them, and their works, better.

Today, we look at ANNABEL LEE.

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Annabel Lee:
The Story of a Woman, Written By Herself
by Christopher Conlon
Genre: Historical Gothic
Everybody knows Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee”—but who was she really?
In this haunting and evocative novel, Christopher Conlon (“one of
the preeminent names in contemporary literary horror”—
Booklist)
imagines a life for one of literature’s most renowned characters.
Hers is a chronicle even more thrilling, doom-haunted, and tragic
than Poe himself could have conceived, for here Annabel Lee tells her
own story in her own words…for the first time.

Guest Post by the Author

I and My Annabel Lee

by Christopher Conlon

copyright 2019 by Christopher Conlon

 

“You mean the Annabel Lee?”

 

I’ve received this response several times now after telling people that the title of my newest novel is Annabel Lee (with the subtitle The Story of a Woman, Written by Herself). Almost everyone has encountered the poem by Edgar Allan Poe at some point, most typically in school. It’s a basic American classic, with its wonderfully lilting language and storyline of aching romantic doom. The narrator and his girlfriend Annabel surely stand as one of the great Gothic couples, alongside other such passionate lovers of the period as Heathcliff and Catherine of Wuthering Heights and Rochester and Jane of Jane Eyre. Why tinker with a masterpiece?

 

What occurred to me in thinking recently about “Annabel Lee”—which I first read and loved as a child—is that, for all its unforgettable imagery and emotion, the reader never experiences a single moment of the poem from Annabel’s own point of view. The entire piece is narrated by the nameless young man who tells us that they “loved with a love that was more than love,” but he alone defines this; Annabel’s own thoughts and feelings are never given voice at all. We know what he says about her and their relationship; but what might she have said?

 

My novel sets out to answer that question, and in so doing goes into some strange and unexpected places—including an appearance from Mr. Poe himself. How successful my imaginings are, of course, is for the reader to decide….

 

Annabel Lee

By Edgar Allan Poe

It was many and many a year ago,

In a kingdom by the sea,

That a maiden there lived whom you may know

By the name of Annabel Lee;

And this maiden she lived with no other thought

Than to love and be loved by me.

 

I was a child and she was a child,

In this kingdom by the sea,

But we loved with a love that was more than love—

I and my Annabel Lee—

With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven

Coveted her and me.

 

And this was the reason that, long ago,

In this kingdom by the sea,

A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling

My beautiful Annabel Lee;

So that her highborn kinsmen came

And bore her away from me,

To shut her up in a sepulchre

In this kingdom by the sea.

 

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,

Went envying her and me—

Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,

In this kingdom by the sea)

That the wind came out of the cloud by night,

Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

 

But our love it was stronger by far than the love

Of those who were older than we—

Of many far wiser than we—

And neither the angels in Heaven above

Nor the demons down under the sea

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

 

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side

Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,

In her sepulchre there by the sea—

In her tomb by the sounding sea.

 

Author Bio

Christopher Conlon (b. 1962) is best known as the editor of the Bram Stoker
Award-winning anthology “He Is Legend” (Gauntlet/Tor), a
tribute to author Richard Matheson which was reprinted by the Science
Fiction Book Club and in multiple foreign translations. His novel
“Savaging the Dark” was included in Booklist’s “Top
Ten: Horror” for 2015 (starred review) and acclaimed by Paste
Magazine both as one of the 21 Best Horror Books of the 21st Century
and as one of the 50 Best Horror Novels of All Time. Two of his
earlier novels, “Midnight on Mourn Street” and “A
Matrix of Angels,” were finalists for the Stoker Award, and he
has written numerous collections of stories and poems along with two
full-length stage plays. A former Peace Corps Volunteer, Conlon holds
an M.A. in American Literature from the University of Maryland and
lives in the Washington, DC area.
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