A friend of mine posted this snippet regarding the question: “If you could invite a famous writer or artist (dead or alive) to dinner who would it be?”
From New York Times Book Review’s Chuck Klosterman:
“The only problem is that dead people might not understand what was going on, why they were suddenly alive, or why they were being forced to make conversation with some bozo at a weird dinner party. They might just sit there and scream for two hours. And even if they kept it together, I’m sure they’d be highly distracted. If I invite Edgar Allan Poe to dinner, it seems possible he’d spend the whole time expressing amazement over the restaurant’s air conditioning.”
I’m far from an expert on Poe but I imagine, if you took him to dinner at a modern restaurant he’d be far more alarmed by the menu items than the air-conditioning.
Dinner with Poe
“Dandelion salad? Thirty-four dollars and fifty cents? Highway robbery! Call forth the proprietor! He deserves a tongue lashing. I was assured that my return to this vile and wretched planet merited a meal at Manhattan’s finest establishment.”
“But Mr. Poe. This is the finest ⏤”
“My morning repast, delivered ‘complimentary” to my chamber without my even having made a request, consisted of a plateful of delightfully crispy bacon, sweet rolls the likes of which I’ve not beheld since brief childhood, a full pot of coffee with pitchers of cream and sugar and even, fruit. Not one damned and cursed dandelion. And I was encouraged to dine in bed ⏤ to rest from my ordeal ⏤ in bedding as soft as the satin in my beloved Virginia’s coffin,” he paused “Where is my love? If I must be dragged from endless rest, why couldn’t she also be reconstituted by foul alchemy? Once again to cuddle, if just for a day. It was many and many a year ago, in a kingdom by the sea.”
“Ah, um …” The man in charge of Harvard’s annual Dinner With Your Favorite Author event didn’t know how to respond. The year before they had brought back both Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning at the insistence of an exceedingly wealthy donor. But at least they were both adults. At the height of his creative output (which was when the bidders demanded their interviews) Poe was married to a thirteen year old.
Much to the organizer’s distress, Poe scowled at the high bidder. “You have made a donation to a university to converse with me?” I, who scarcely eked out a living ⏤ oft reduced to consuming only dandelion soup ⏤”
You’re a legend now, Mr. Poe.”
“A legend? What damsel in distress have I saved or battle charge have I led? Sir, I daresay you have been swindled. Did I not see beggars on the streets? Did I not see mere children selling their bodies and men, even some women, drinking spirits directly from a bottle in the middle of the day. I say onto you – entirely too many dandelions are consumed in this time and place and you’re all quite mad!