Author available to be a part of your book club!

If you're interested in arranging to have Matthew Pearl be a part of your book club meeting via speakerphone, email here.

Remember that along with The Poe Shadow, there is a special companion edition of Poe's detective tales, Murders in the Rue Morgue: The Dupin Tales, which Matthew Pearl edited and wrote the preface. (click here for more information). Though no outside knowledge of Poe is required in order to enjoy The Poe Shadow, this is a great opportunity for book clubs, classes and reading groups to read the two books as a pair. The Murders in the Rue Morgue special edition includes a reader's group discussion guide at the back of the book.

Some discussion points for your book club about The Poe Shadow: (click here for a printer-friendly version)

...Other than Quentin, most of the book's characters in this 1849 setting do not appreciate or read Edgar Allan Poe's works, and this is part of what provokes Quentin to try to rescue Poe's name. Why do you think Poe means so much to Quentin?

...(follow up) If you have read Poe in the past, what is your own history of reading Poe? Is there any author, from past or present, whom you would "fight" for as much as Quentin does for Poe?

...In addition to serving as physical locales, Baltimore and Paris may be said to serve as "characters" in the book. What do the cities add to the novel, and what kinds of details bring alive their histories?

...As the historical note at the back of the novel explains, the book uses authentic details about Poe's strange death. Had you heard anything about Poe's death before reading The Poe Shadow? After reading the evidence and theories throughout the novel, do you agree with all of the conclusions presented by the characters in the final chapters, or do you have other theories?

...(follow up) If you had been in Quentin's position at the end of the novel, would you have made the information on Poe's death public, or kept it private?

...Auguste Duponte and Baron Claude Dupin can be seen as doubles or doppelgangers, and the book discusses Poe's use of doubles in works such as "William Wilson," a tale that features two identical characters with the same names. Discuss the use of doubles and doubling in The Poe Shadow. Are there any other doubles besides Duponte and Dupin? Does Quentin have any doubles? Does Edgar Allan Poe?

...The word "shadow" is used in many different ways in the novel. Quentin tells us, "Poe once wrote in a tale about the conflict between the substance and the shadow inside of us. The substance, what we know we should do, and the shadow, the dangerous and giggling Imp of the Perverse, the dark knowledge of what we must or will do or secretly want. The shadow always prevails." What are possible meanings of the title "The Poe Shadow"?

...What if Quentin had met Poe before Poe died? Do you think this would have made his personal quest more or less important to him?

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