Edgar Allan Poe was a poet and a short-story writer, an essayist and the father of the detective story. Oh, and he was probably also a time traveller.
That, at least, is the case made over at History Buff — and I have to say, it’s oddly compelling. The strongest point is that Poe’s novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, told the invented story of a shipwreck. Forty-six years after the book’s publication, in 1884, a real shipwreck happened. In Poe’s novel, the survivors draw straws to elect who will be killed and eaten. In 1884, the survivors also resorted to cannibalism. In Poe’s novel, the boy who is killed is named Richard Parker. And the name of the boy who was killed in the real 1884 shipwreck was Richard Parker. It’s like Poe was writing a novel based on true events, just a half-century before those events ever happened.
A few other Poe stories are similarly prescient. History Buff makes the case that the Poe short story diagnoses frontal lobe syndrome with an uncanny level of accuracy, for a guy who was writing during a period when neurology basically didn’t exist. And that his prose poem “Eureka” formulated the Big Bang Theory before physicists came even close. And there was something unworldly about the guy, wasn’t there?
Then again, you’d think a time traveller would have the foresight to end up somewhere better off than penniless and dead in a ditch. In any case, read the whole argument about Poe the time traveller here.