BOSTON — Edgar Allan Poe had a love-hate relationship with the city of Boston.
He was born here in 1809 and published some of his most famous works here. But he considered Boston writers self-important and preachy, and he said so. And Boston returned the sentiment. Ralph Waldo Emerson dismissed Poe as a “jingle man” for his simplistic style, as if the author of “The Raven” were writing television ads for toothpaste.
Not surprisingly, little trace of Poe remains in this region’s august annals of literary achievement, overstuffed as they are with the likes of Emerson and Thoreau, Longfellow and Hawthorne.
But Poe’s snarly past with Boston will be set aside on Sunday, when the city officially welcomes the master of the macabre into its fold with the unveiling of a statue in his honor.
“It’s time that Poe, whose hometown was Boston, be honored for his connection to the city,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said.
Other cities have long claimed a piece of the itinerant Poe. Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Richmond, Va., all have Poe monuments or museums of one sort or another.
Boston never bothered. Not without reason. Poe sneered at the city’s luminaries. Riffing off the Frog Pond in the Boston Common, Poe called the local swells “Frogpondians,” their moralistic works sounding like the croaking of so many frogs. As for residents here, they “have no soul,” he said. “Bostonians are well bred — as very dull persons very generally are.”
Now the city is burying the hatchet, and not in Poe’s back. On Sunday, civic and literary folk, including Robert Pinsky, a former national poet laureate who teaches at Boston University, are to unveil a bronze statue of Poe near the Boston Common and, they hope, usher in an era of reconciliation.
The statue captures the writer in a purposeful stride, his cape billowing out to his left. On his right is an outsize raven, uncoiling for flight. Poe is toting a suitcase so overpacked that various manuscripts — “The Tell-Tale Heart” among them — are spilling out. Also popping out is a heart.
He is heading toward the house, two blocks away, where his parents lived around the time he was born, though it has since been razed.
“He’s home,” said the sculptor, Stefanie Rocknak, a philosophy professor at Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y. “He’s back, in triumphant gesture, respected as a literary figure.”
Boston has been preparing to welcome him back since the bicentennial of his birth in 2009. That year, Katherine Kim, a graduate student at Boston College, asked her English professor, Paul Lewis, why Boston was not part of the multicity celebration of one of America’s greatest writers.
Mr. Lewis explained that things between Poe and his birth city had gone seriously awry. He repeated the tale on a recent walking tour of Poe-related sites, as follows:
Poe’s mother had loved Boston. Her son Eddy, as she called him, was orphaned early and removed to Richmond, but he returned sporadically throughout his life. On his visits, Poe, who had become a literary reviewer so savage that he was called “tomahawk man,” came to loathe the city’s intelligentsia.
He even investigated his fellow writers, a laborious task in the pre-Google era, and accused the revered Longfellow, author of “Paul Revere’s Ride,” of plagiarism — a charge that a Longfellow biographer later acknowledged had some validity.
Fancying itself the Athens of America, Boston flayed Poe right back. Emerson derided “The Raven,” saying, “I see nothing in it.” Cornelia Wells Walter, editor of The Boston Evening Transcript, engaged in a long-distance smackdown with Poe after he gave a harried, poorly received reading at the Boston Lyceum. She ridiculed him for his “childish” effort. Poe wrote back that at least their spat had perked up the somnambulant citizenry.
“We never saw the Frogpondians so lively in our lives,” he wrote. “They seem absolutely to be upon the point of waking up.”
Poe predicted that Longfellow’s popularity would not endure, and Mr. Lewis said history had proved Poe correct. He said history had also shown that Boston played a crucial role in Poe’s development as a writer.
Poe’s chief complaint about Boston writers was that they were didactic. They used their poetry and fiction to argue their causes — abolition, women’s rights, social reform. To Poe, such writing should entertain and move. He believed in art for art’s sake.
“He who pleases is of more importance to his fellow man than he who instructs,” Poe wrote.
By defining himself in opposition to the Boston writers, Mr. Lewis said, Poe found his own narrative voice.
With these realizations, Mr. Lewis and others thought it time that Boston reconnect with Poe. The 2009 bicentennial set efforts in motion.
The city joined in, renaming the intersection of Boylston Street and Charles Street South, near Poe’s parents’ house, in his honor. There was no gnashing of teeth over whether to embrace the city’s erstwhile antagonist. “It just seemed like a sensible proposition,” said Karin Goodfellow, director of the Boston Art Commission. Poe’s complex feelings about the meaning of art and his sense of place, she said, were part of the fabric of life.
Thomas Menino, then the city’s mayor, also weighed in.
“Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most important figures in American literature,” he said at the time. “We are proud to call him a Bostonian.”
The Boston Public Library sponsored an elaborate Poe exhibit. Dan Currie, a local historian, founded the Edgar Allan Poe Foundation of Boston to raise money for a statue. Among those at Sunday’s unveiling will be Ms. Kim, the graduate student whose interest helped spark Boston’s reassessment.
Poe’s current popularity is evident in English classes here, which are brimming with enthusiasts. Accompanying Mr. Lewis on his recent walking tour were two dozen people, many of them Suffolk University students, who had given up a gorgeous fall Saturday to revel in Poe-mania. One of them was Anet Calisir, 18, who is majoring in marine biology but is enthralled by Poe.
She said her English professor, Peter Jeffreys, “always pushes us to the mental breaking point while discussing each of Poe’s short stories and poems, which makes us want to read more and more and analyze each piece as close as we can.”
Mr. Jeffreys, who also joined the tour, found poetic — if ominous — symbolism in Poe’s belated return to the city that so long kept him down.
“It illustrates the psychological principle that we find in so many of Poe’s stories,” he said. “When you repress something, it eventually returns to haunt you — and quite often with a vengeance.”