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Poe claims our attention as a critic a poet and a story-writer His critical work while sometimes acute and discriminating especially when he deals with the technicalities of composition is on the whole of passing rather than of lasting importance and adds but little to his permanent reputation He had not as Lowell had the breadth of view and the solid basis of scholarship which are such important elements in any enduring work of criticism Lacking these great essentials Poe was not free from a taint of petty jealousy and at times he suffered his personal likes or dislikes to influence his critical judgments A conspicuous example of this is found in his series of papers on The Literati of New York On the other hand he did good service as in his recognition of the genius of Hawthorne and if his work in this direction is not of the highest quality he must be recognized as among the influential critics of his time Poes critical writings have already fallen into a comparatively subordinate place and it is on his work as poet and romance-writer that our estimate of his genius must really rest Judged by this the best that he has given us we cannot but acknowledge his very positive limitations He is neither profound nor varied he is powerless to uplift to inspire or to console His fame rests not on his ability to do many things but on his power to do a few things almost incomparably well The reasons for his success within certain positive limits are singularly definite and comprehensible and we can enumerate the magic gifts which the fairy godmother of genius bestowed on him in his cradle He was endowed with that power of close analysis of logical and consecutive thought which we associate with a mathematical and keenly intellectual mind While this is by no means his greatest gift it shows itself unmistakably
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