Sunday, December 22, 2013

Inspired By Literature: Edgar Allan Poe

Although Edgar Allan Poe may not seem like a particularly seasonable selection for December's Inspired By Literature post there is just something about the early nightfall of the winter solstice that begs for the unsettling gloom of one of Poe's short stories. If I'm not mistaken, it was also a tradition not long ago to sit around the fire on Christmas Eve and tell ghost stories.

Like many nineteenth century literature lovers I've always adored Edgar Allan Poe, but it was not until a course in college dedicated solely to Poe and Hawthorne and then several French literature courses that I truly came to appreciate the author's style. Poe was largely misunderstood in the United States when his stories were first released because his style was foreign and most similar to French author Maupassant (also the subject of an Inspired By Literature post, here). It would be challenging for me to list all of my Poe favorites, although I will say that The Fall of the House of Usher will always be among my favorite short stories

(Clockwise from bottom right): Rouge Bunny Rouge Abyssinian Catbird eye shadow, MAC Club, Moth Brown, Hocus Pocus and Copperplate eye shadows

Poe's stories are written like a graphic novel illustrated by Edward Gorey. I always picture thick illustrated lines, shades of grey and pops of muted color when I read his works. Color so very often holds such significance in many of his stories that it's difficult to picture it against any other background than black and white so stark it is in comparison to the other items Poe chose to obscure with a lack of description by contrast. 

(Clockwise from top left): Chanel Notorious Ombre Contraste, MAC Raven Kohl Power Pencil, NARS Vent GlacĂ©, Laura Mercier Lush Nectarine Blush 

Poe's writing may be gothic, but his "scary" stories are approachable and the chill one gets from reading his scariest works feels like cold wind on the skin in comparison to such works as Henry James The Turn of the Screw which (in my opinion) is positively bone chilling. It is this approachability that contributes to Poe's enduring popularity: his books and stories are as at home in the hands of a literature loving child (myself) as they are in those of an adult seeking a bit of chilling whimsy on a cold afternoon (also myself).

In terms of inspiration for my makeup looks Poe is likely the most influential. Although I don't feel that women are always well represented in his stories, their wan and waif-like beauty is often emulated at this time of year in fashion spreads and on the catwalk. Pale skin, understated eyes and a pop of vampy deep purple on the lips are as Poe-like as you can get.

(From left to right): Giorgio Armani Plum 609 Lipstick, MAC Media Lipstick, NARS Sin Blush

Which of Poe's short stories is your favorite? If you were to compare a cosmetic or fragrance to the works of Edgar Allan Poe, which would you compare and why?