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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Great Wednesday Compare #3: Edgar Allan Poe VERSUS Jane Austen


The winner of last week's Great Wednesday Compare (King Vs. Poe) with a final score of 17-5 is Edgar Allan Poe.

Early in I thought there might actually be some contest, but in the end, Matt was right; it was a pretty lopsided result. I would have cast my vote in Poe's favour as well. I read a lot of King and Poe in high school, but looking at them now I think Poe understood and illustrated human motivation much better. Plus, "The Raven" was one of the first poems I remember enjoying.

This week I'm going to make Mark Twain roll over in his grave. Apparently he had this to say about Jane Austen:

"Jane Austen? Why, I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane Austen. Even if it contains no other book."
Of Poe, he said,"To me his prose is unreadable—like Jane Austen's."

For Twain, and maybe you, this would be a matter of picking the lesser of two evils. Then again, maybe you absolutely love one of these authors, maybe even both. I am hoping that this week's outcome proves to be a little less predictable. That, however, remains to be seen...

Remember, vote simply by adding your comment below, base it on whatever merit you choose, voting does not end until Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. (July 3rd), and please spread the word!

Who is better?
Edgar Allan Poe or Jane Austen

65 comments:

Gentle Reader said...

No contest, Jane Austen wins easily in my book. I like them both, for very different reasons, but I'm drawn to Austen's voice, her sense of humor and irony about people, and her social commentary, more than to Poe's gothic tone (though I do think he was a master of the short story). Poe is always tagged as part of the Romantic movement, and I think of Austen as more of a realist than a Romantic.

Tony said...

The less-informed readers think she was a romantic writer; the astute reader knows her for her acerbic wit, biting humor and irony; very few recognize her as a mystery writer, and she was! Jane Austen, all the way! Sorry, Ed.

Allison said...

My vote stays with Poe.

stefanie said...

Poe is great, but as Gentle Reader says, no contest. Jane Austen rocks!

John Mutford said...

Oh oh. This one is shaping up to be as unbalanced as the others!

kookiejar said...

Austen is boring and unreadable. I know that is not a popular mindset, but that's the way I feel.

My vote is for Poe.

Matt said...

I'm sticking with Poe as well. I'm part way through my first Austen novel right now, but I can tell I prefer Poe.

In addition, I have no interest in reading Twain. I can not stand the way The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is written, or at least the paragraph or two I've read of it. So he can bugger off.

Literary Feline said...

As Gentle Reader said, I like them both for different reasons, however, with this one, I have to go with Jane Austen for all the reasons Tony stated. :-)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Jane Austen! She really did offer considerable social commentary, despite her own rather narrow existence.

Stephanie said...

I'm going to have to go with Poe. That's my inner Goth child talking!

marydell said...

Although I love Austen, my vote goes to Poe purely for the entertainment factor. I could stay up all night reading his short stories and poems, then go back and reread them again the next day.

Dewey said...

Austen.

Carrie K said...

Jane Austen! She gave us Mr. Darcy and thereby giving us Colin Firth in a wet shirt.

Hannah said...

Oh Carrie K *snicker* amen to you. If we were voting solely based on soggy-shirted men it would be easy.

This is a tough one - but I have to say Poe. The Simpsons were never able to put together a brilliant piece of television based on Austen... but wow. Interesting choice.

Rebecca said...

POE! I could never, ever get through an Austen novel without wanting to smack the main characters and throw the book against the wall.

John Mutford said...

Hey, cool. Finally looks like a competition.

Helen said...

It is Jane Austen’s expertise at narrative art, her deft portrayal of both the naturalistic character and the caricature and her ability to connect her characters that win my vote. All of this lightly seasoned with gentle sarcasm are what make Austen a fabulous read, time and time again.

Dewey said...

Just came to see who's winning! Sorry my note earlier was so terse. It happened sort of like this:

Me: Oh I love Austen!
Also me: But I love Poe too!

And then I had a sort of internal debate about all they've both contributed and was too worn out by the end to say more than just Austen.

John Mutford said...

Drat. No one questioned that my "Great Wednesday Compare" appears to have been done on Tuesday. Blame blogger for that. I was working on the post Tuesday night, but did not publish it until Wednesday. Apparently, it matters when you last save a post, not when you publish it. In any case, I didn't publish it until Wednesday- just in case any new votes trickled in last minute (which they didn't).

Siew Cooper said...

RE: Twain - my sentiments exactly Matt!

Dewey, I'm in the same dilemma....this week's compare is doing my head in!

I'm going to just have to take a stab and vote for Austen, though she's only a mite in front. Both were masters in their respective genres.

Diana said...

omparing these two authors seems a bit like comparing apples and oranges, they're so different. But, if I must compare them, I have to say Austen. I love Poe, but he just can't compete.

Elizabeth said...

Well, Jane Austen, of course. Witty, clever, transcends time and place. While I like and enjoy Poe, I can more readily identify with Jane Austen's characters. I no longer imagine myself a potential pendulum victim -- not since I left my last job.

John Mutford said...

Diana, Don't worry, sometimes it'll be apples to apples, I promise.

Laura S said...

I would have to say Jane Austen. There are a million reasons why I love her/prefer her over Poe, but one reason that I adore Jane Austen is her wit and humour.
GO TEAM AUSTEN!

Lady Jane said...

Jane Austen, no contest! She's the greatest.

Kasey said...

Jane Austen, without any doubt. Poe's writing is very good, but once through is enough to catch all/most of what he had to say. With Austen's books, however, even the 5th reading can yield something new. It's like having a conversation with an old friend who says something unexpected and fresh.

Jane Austen, best ever!

Bybee said...

I'm going with Poe. Although he was taught and taught in school, I never really felt he had to be explained to me. Not so with Austen. Understanding the manners and mores in her novels was difficult, like slicing through a cultural thicket armed with but a pair of embroidery scissors.

Besides, the first three letters of the word verification that I must type in a minute or two are p-o-e. If that's not a sign, I don't know what is!

John Mutford said...

Bybee, that's sort of creepy isn't it? But if Poe's working beyond the grave, perhaps he should try doing it through people rather than word verification. The Austen people have taken the lead.

Ms. Place said...

First, it is a little hard to choose over two such excellent writers, and having just completed a poll on my own blog, I can definitely see what a slippery slope this could be.

Jane Austen wins in my book only because she wrote solid and lengthy novels. Poe's talent is undeniable; but he wrote shorter pieces.

Jane.

Fia said...

While I do enjoy Poe, he still can't hold a candle to Austen.

Erin said...

I vote Jane Austen all the way.

Abigail said...

My vote goes to Jane Austen. ^_^

MaureenE said...

Austen forever, as far as I'm concerned!

lomihi said...

Jane, of course.

Heather said...

Jane Austen!

Louisa said...

I love poe, but I have to say this is no contest, in favor of Jane Austen. Not only do I think she's a better writer, but her books have manages to weave their way into the fabric of english/american culture in a way Poe will never achieve

So, Austen

Antoinette said...

Jane Austen, without a doubt. I agree with Tony, I love Austen's humor and irony - goes rather well with romance :)

Chris said...

Jane Austen! For sure!

Eugenia said...

Why Jane Austen, of course! Poe always makes me a little depressed- creeped out, too.

Diane said...

Jane Austen forever! When I set out to read the "classics" as a teen, eventually I got to her...I was fascinated and delighted...and after that, my project just seemed to fizzle out. I had found the ultimate and nothing else seemed worth the trouble of reading. Awfully narrow-minded, but I still feel this way. She just understood people so well...and people fascinate me...and I hate being depressed and everything by Poe that I've read (actually quite a bit more than any other classic writer) left me depressed. So there. =)

Hannah said...

Everything Tony and Helen said - Jane Austen.

reeba said...

I feel sorry for not saying Poe, but my vote goes to Austen.

Her style of writing fascinates me.

Mrs. V said...

While I love both writers I will have to pick Austen.

She influenced so much of today's writing. She helped shaped the modern novel. So many try to write as she did and so many fail miserably. Her wit and her insight... she is just awesome. Even if you only ever watch the movies and dream of wet shirts and smoldering looks, she has made much more of an impact on the culture of the Western world.

Amanda said...

My vote goes to Jane Austen. Definitely.

Kittie said...

Jane Austen... I love Poe's works, but I could read jane austen anytime, anyday. With Poe I have to be in a certain mood.

So Jane gets my vote.

GeorgeD said...

It's Jane Austen for me. No doubt at all. Jane Austen forever!

Sure, I love Poe's writings, and the Raven poem is great, and I'm a True Crime buff and and and...

But -- just read the beginning of chapter 51 of "Pride and Prejudice". Jane Austen knew so much more than Poe about the "banality of evil". She's not writing about the extraordinary, the never-before-heard-of. She just wrote about such people as everyone is sure to meet in everyday life. Murder is a rather rare thing, thank goodness, but people who will go on to ruin the life of others, without feeling anything like remorse or shame, are so scarily common ...

Kathleen Marie said...

Jane for sure but I do enjoy Poe's work.

Teena said...

Jane Jane Jane!

Nicole said...

I am an avid Jane Austen fan, so my vote is definitely Austen. However, I can't help but think that we're comparing apples and oranges here. Austen and Poe represent two totally different styles of writing. Maybe a Bronte vs. Austen competition? That would definitely be one I would have difficulty deciding on.

Harold said...

If there is such a thing as "The Compleat Novelist" it is Jane Austen. Hands down!

Harold

Lauren said...

Definitely Jane Austen!

Peony Moss said...

Austen.

Poe is good, but Austen is GREAT.

Kimba said...

Despite years of being a Poe fan, my vote, without hesitation, goes to Jane Austen!

JaneFan said...

My vote is for Austen. While I appreciate and enjoy Poe's creativity, I have a greater admiration for Austen's ability to develop characters that true to life. I think Austen had a greater perception into the realities of typical human nature, whereas Poe delved into the realm of madness and fringes of society. Both approaches required courage, and have made a lasting impression on culture. Ultimately I think Poe would have been as uncomfortable in the Bennet's drawing room as Austen would be in the pit with the pendulum!

Maev said...

Though I'm fond of Poe, it simply has to be Austen. He doesn't compare.

Diane said...

Austen...because I have read everything she's written and not everything Poe has written.

Janeite said...

Without any doubt: Jane Austen wins!!!

I have just read a few Poe short stories, they are good, but they do not recreate a whole world and have alive characters.

Ms. Place said...

Oh, dear, I must answer you in full view since I see no email address. I don't know how many people I sent your way, but I apologize for the 'daft fellow' remark. No lady calls anyone by any name other than dahling.

I just finished conducting my own poll and discovered to my dismay that the Jane fans are legion. Where I was expecting 50 votes at most I received over 1,200 in one week.

So, mischievously (much like some of Jane Austen's minor characters), and knowing full well what would happen, I sent my readers your way. But my readership doesn't begin to touch Austen blog's or A Lady's Diversion's. Those blogs are huge compared to my humble little Jane's World.

To offset Jane's enormous votes, you will probably have to save her and pit her against the big guns, like Shakespeare or Milton or Homer, because (believe me) there's no fan more adoring or tenacious than a Jane fan.

Again, my sincerest apologies. And for causing you distress, I would like to place The Book Mine Set on my literary blog roll.

I find that this blog rocks.

Ms. Place

Icha said...

Jane Austen, of course. Sorry Poe... you're great, but it is the truth universally acknowledged that JA is better!

John Mutford said...

Ms. Place,
No problem. I actually prefer "daft" to "dahling". As for sending the Austen minions my way, no worries about that either. My hit counter had been rusty until you folks came along. Sheesh! I'm learning a little something about the devotion she inspired if nothing else. As for future contenders I have a few in mind, though I'm skeptical if they, or even the ones you had mentioned, would succeed. Maybe I need to do a 5 win cap or something. Then maybe drag back the five timers for a championship. We'll see how it goes and what I decide.

Miranda said...

Jane Austen gets my vote!

Anonymous said...

Jaaaaaaaaannnnnne.

Melanie said...

Jane Austen remains a muse for many, while Poe seems just amusing.
My vote goes to Jane!

Poodlerat said...

Jane Austen---no contest!

John Mutford said...

Voting now closed.