[BOOKS] ⚦ The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe By Edgar Allan Poe – Saudionline.co.uk

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10 thoughts on “The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

  1. says:

    I’ve been reading this book for almost three years and it feels so good to finally have finished it!

    I was surprised by what I found in here. Poe was slightly different to what I thought. He is very much shrouded in shadow and the macabre, at least, his more successful stories and poems were. But there were also some very basic stories in here, some that felt like they weren’t even written by the same person. For every great piece of literature, there were two mediocre ones. I disliked the crime stories in particular. The best ones, for me, were the ones where the narrator laments a lost love on the cusp of insanity: these stories were simply beautiful.

    Here’s my top two, the only two I consider to be literary perfection:

    The Raven

    Shall we descend into madness? Shall we be haunted by our own desires? Shall we be consumed by that terrible facet of life known only as death? Shall we cling to what cannot be reanimated? Shall we wish for a return of something that has long been in darkness?

    Shall we become obliterated by the brutal finality of such a statement as “nevermore?”

    Lenore has gone. She has departed from this life, and is permanently out of the reach of the man. The raven represents the solidarity of this. Despite how much he longs for the impossible, despite how much he hopes for something that could never occur, he still has that inclination that the fantastical could happen: he has to believe that she could come back. And the raven represents the voice of reason, the voice of actuality. And it kills him. It is pain, despair, melancholy and a spiritual death all rolled into one haunting feathery package.

    He rebels against this voice of rationality. He knows the voice speaks the truth, but he cannot simply accept it. He has lost something vital; he has lost part of himself that will never grace his presence again. And he clings to hope, a false hope such as it is. The raven smashes this to oblivion; it destroys any last semblance of the miraculous occurring. It makes the man realise that this is life, not some whimsical world where nothing bad ever happens. People die. People we love die. Nothing can change that. Lenore will never walk through his chamber door again, and the reality drives him into madness. It shatters his life.

    ”And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
    On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
    And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
    And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
    Shall be lifted- nevermore!”


    His soul will never lift anymore; hope shall never be lifted anymore. By the end of the poem he has full realised the reality of the situation. The raven, the dark bird of harsh truth, the harbinger of the words he simply doesn’t want to hear, has become demonised. It has become the very object he did not want to face; he created a sense of longing to protect himself from the emotional loss of Lenore, and this bubble of falsehood has been burst. Reality sets in, and it is a fate worse than death. It is one of persecution and mental chaos as the bird is simply unable to supply the man with all his answers. He is driven mad by the unknown.

    The man in the poem has lost “Lenore.” But, what is this Lenore? Is she a woman? Is she this man’s lost love? Or is she something much, much, more? I think on the surface level of the poem she is his dead wife. But the archaic references speak of something else. Lenore could perhaps be a universal suggestion of a lost sense of self or even humanity. We are no longer what we once were. It is also rather significant that the man is persecuted only by the natural world. Very much in the Romanticism vein, man stands aside from nature. He has become something different with his modernisation and industrialisation.

    He walks outside his nature. And Poe, being an anti-transcendentalism thinker (a dark romantic), demonstrates that life isn’t all sunshine and roses, and nor could it ever be. It is pessimism in full force, and although I strongly disagree with the outlook on life, and appreciate the idealistic utopia offered in the poetry of Percy Shelley and other Romantics much more, I do love the dark beauty of this poem. The finality of the phrase “nevermore” is nothing short of maddening reality for our lost man. It is the end of hope.



    If a mind has found the most true and profound bliss what happens when it’s taken away?

    Well, the simple answer is it doesn’t work anymore, at least not very well. The narrator of this marvellous short story experiences a whole host of emotions and mental states after his loss. Firstly, he is hit with the expected wave of melancholy fuelled by his understandable grief; secondly, he feels the slow calm breeze of acceptance; thirdly, and finaly, he is savaged by an unrealised state of delusion and fantasy. In this, Edgar Allan Poe demonstrates his true mastery of writing a character in different states of mental stability. Needless to say, he’s a remarkable writer.

    In beauty of face no maiden ever equaled her. It was the radiance of an opium-dream - and airy and spirit-lifting vision more wildly divine than the phantasies which hovered about the slumbering souls of the daughters of Delos. Yet her features were not of that regular mould which we have been falsely taught to worship in the classical labors of the heathen.”

    The narrator cannot be blamed for his fragility. He has lost his world: he has lost his beloved Ligeia. She was everything to him, and they both knew it. Nothing could lessen the blow of her death; nothing could take the pain away of her upcoming demise: nothing could save his mind in a world without her. They were living in harmony; their souls had achieved happiness and love; they were two lesser beings of one greater soul: they were at peace in their own transcendental plane, until she died. So, the narrator’s sense of self awareness and actuality has been destroyed. He is left with the tatters of a wonderful experience, and his own delusion.

    I recommend looking at the following quote and considering exactly who is speaking, and why he would conjure up such an image. Perhaps, he didn’t fantasise this. Maybe this is paranormal. I do love the multiplicity of its interpretation.


    This short story is a marvel. It appears confusing and contradictory, but if you stop and consider who is actually speaking then its true nature is revealed. Admittedly, on my first read I was a little lost, though after a second read I began to see it for what it was. This is not as approachable as some of Poe’s other works, and it really isn’t an advisable starting point for the author. But, the short story is wonderful, truly wonderful. It highlights the working of the mind in a state of sheer depravity; it is disturbing and brilliant.


    It seems to me that the more popular stories were the more effective ones. The only one with little renown that was brilliant was Ligeia. I’m glad I read the entire thing, but some of the works were entirely forgettable. There two, though, will be works I certainly will be reading again in the future.

  2. says:

    How could I not love this book? Shortly after reading Poe's complete works as a teenager, my family was transferred to Fort Monroe in southern Virginia. While waiting for permanent housing, I ended up staying in the house (and the very bedroom) that Poe had been in while he served on the base. Pulling out this book and reading it in the very space where Poe had suffered through depression and anxiety was exhilarating. While I realized the morbid nature of my glee, it somehow seemed appropriate as I lay awake at nights praying to hear that telltale ticking.

    As an adult, I have come to realize that my love of Poe's horror comes from the fact that he focuses not on the gore on modern horror, but rather on the shocking indelicacy of human potential. I sometimes think of him as the Gothic forefather of Anthony Robbins.

  3. says:

    I'm going for a 3.5 stars. I must be the only person in the known world that hasn't 5 starred Poe. I figured I would be a 5 star.

    Either way, I'm just going to list the stories and poems I did enjoy. Although, I can't read my handwriting so now I have to go through the book. Well, I guess I could just look at the Contents at the front. Duh, if I can still read my handwriting. I don't know why I wrote it on freaking post-its!


    1. The Murders In The Rue Morgue
    2. The Mystery of Marie Roget
    3. Ligeia
    4. The Tell-Tale Heart
    5. MS. Found in a Bottle
    6. Berenice
    7. The Fall of the House of Usher
    8. The Pit and the Pendulum
    9. Morella
    10. The Oblong Box
    11. The Premature Burial
    12. The Imp of the Perverse
    13. The Facts of the Case of M. Valdemar
    14. Hop-Frog

    I basically liked all of the Tales of Mystery and Horror as you can see. Not all of them though. I didn't really like much else but some Poems.

    The Poems

    1. Annabel Lee
    2. The City in the Sea
    3. The Sleeper
    4. Lenore
    5. The Raven
    6. Ulalume
    7. To Helen
    8. For Annie
    9. The Bells
    10. The Valley of Unrest
    11. Bridal Ballad to
    12. Evening Star
    13. The Haunted Palace

    Uggg, those are not in order. I had a hard time reading my writing and finding them on the contents pages. Who cares if they are in order, it's my OCD.

    I'm glad to all of those that love all of his stuff.

  4. says:

    This is one of the only books I have left that belonged to my grandfather and it's one of the best. It contains stories and poems by Edgar Allan Poe. Sections include: Tales of Mystery and Horror, Humor and Satire, Flights and Fantasies, The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym of Nantucket, and many poems including Annabel Lee, Alone, and my favorite, A Dream Within a Dream.


  5. says:

    I've reviewed the tales I read by their individual titles, and I won't repeat my reviews here. Let me just say that Poe is an under-appreciated master. Not just under-appreciated by many readers today, for whom he's synonymous with being a sort of proto-schlock-horror writer, but under-appreciated by readers and even famous writers of his day. Henry James infamously said that "[a]n enthusiasm for Poe is the mark of a decidedly primitive stage of reflection." Granted, James was young at the time, but still, that's no excuse. Even worse was Ralph Waldo Emerson's dismissal of Poe as the "jingle man." These writers (whom I otherwise admire) thought of Poe as immature, but I think they make the classic mistake of confusing the writer with his subject. Poe's characters are often high-strung and immature in their way, but Poe is never without an ironic distance from them. Many of the narrators of his tales are classic "unreliable narrators," and Poe wants his readers to see them as such--to see behind the masks they don--and it's there that his tales gather most force.

  6. says:

    I really enjoyed these creepy, gothic, and thrilling short stories. Edgar Allan Poe really was original and ahead of his time in writing. The storytelling and his ability to paint a picture with words is fantastic. These stories are tales of tragedy, woe, despair, and typically do not end well. All the stories are creative and enjoyable. Some that stood out to me were the:
    'The Masque of the Red Death' were time and death are inevitable for all

    The Gothic masterpiece of with a supernatural-horror feel, 'The Fall of the House of Usher'

    There are many other short stories including a treasure hunting story along costal South Carolina (The Gold Bug), detective stories (The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Mystery of Marie Roget), and a selection of poems including the supernatural classic, 'The Raven'.

    Overall I really almost all of these short stories and poems. I would definitely recommend this or any other edition of 'The Complete Tales and Poems'. Thanks!

  7. says:

    Reading "The Complete Stories and Poems" will be a hell of a time-consuming project, but as I can feel honored to call Edgar Allan Poe one of my favorite authors, the only option to give his writing abilities justice is to read his stories and poems in their entirety. My intention is to update this review with my thoughts on all the stories and poems Poe has ever written constantly until I've completed my way through (however, I'll probably not always add it to my update feed in order to not spam other feeds), but it will be sporadic and infrequent due to my unpredictable reading moods.

    Tales (listed in chronological order)

    Metzengerstein: (4/5 stars)
    Being the first short story Poe has ever published, Metzengerstein includes all the well-known aspects of his writing style which he has become so popular for. Quite disturbing, relying on speculative thoughts due to the narrative, a thought-provoking turning point and a deeper meaning which appears when thinking more precisely about the story. Poe has excellently explored the interesting concept of metempsychosis through this interesting short story which focuses on the feuds of two rivaling Hungarian families. [Please don't read the synopsis on the Goodreads book edition, since it spoils the story and its apparent meaning in their entirety.]

    The Duc de L'Omelette: (1/5 stars)
    Somehow, I find myself being glad that Edgar Allan Poe also came up with terribly-written stories like this one, so that I can still find reasons to criticize him. The fact that this was written partly in English, partly in French, was not so irritating as was the lack of anything resembling a plot.

    A Tale of Jerusalem: (1/5 stars)
    It's interesting to see how pointless some of Poe's early stories were. Trying to read them chronologically enables the reader to look behind Poe's writing process, and it definitely accentuates how much he improved his writing skills in the course of time.

    Morella: (4/5 stars)
    Morella is one of Poe's most memorable stories so far. A short tale of love, studies, death, identity and dread, Poe managed to integrate me into the story and fix my attention on his words, only to leave me shattered and thunderstruck upon the final twist.

    Four Beasts in One - The Homo-Cameleopard: (1/5 stars)
    I have no idea what to think of Four Beasts In One: The Homo-Cameleopard. It was boring, ridiculous and did not even include a message of its own. A story which can definitely be skipped without regretting it.

    Ligeia: (4,5/5 stars)
    One of my favorite Poe stories. In Ligeia, it appears as though Poe wants his reader to know that not only does he masterfully write chilling horror stories, but also is he a romantic at heart. Combining elements of romance and horror, Poe wove a suspenseful story focusing on the mental health of a protagonist who has lost the love of his life.

    The Fall of the House of Usher
    The Fall of the House of Usher is a story I don't remember a lot of, so I'll definitely re-read it soon.

    A Descent into the Maelstrom (3/5 stars)
    With the creepy title and the horrifying premise - the narrator talking about a fishing trip with his two brothers which ended in chaos and turmoil years ago - I expected this story to be a little more frightening and engaging than it ultimately ended up to be. You will find Poe's classic style, though nothing extraordinary.

    The Oval Portrait (3,5/5 stars)
    One of the shortest stories of Poe's writing, The Oval Portrait focuses on a protagonist who finds a certain painting of a beautiful woman in an abandoned castle and discovers the frightening as well as disturbing background of this painting. Precise and meaningful, Poe's prose masterfully explores the sacrifices of art.

    The Masque of the Red Death (4/5 stars)
    The Masque of the Red Death is no story about plot or characters. It's a story about atmosphere, about mood, about the symbolisms of colorful descriptions. That's what Poe was able to write perfectly, and that's what I can recommend this story for.

    The Tell-Tale Heart: (5/5 stars)
    The Tell-Tale Heart was the story through which I have had the pleasure to meet Edgar Allan Poe some years ago, and it proved to become one of the best short stories I've ever read. Basically, it's a murderer's confession, creating the impression of a mad narrator and raising the reader's interest in his arguments he builds up as part of his defense. As the story continues, Poe cleverly turns his reader from a witness of the events into a judge of guilt and innocence, a narrative structure admired by me.

    The Black Cat: (4/5 stars)
    The Black Cat represents an exceptionally well-written, shocking and frightening story dealing with madness and human abysses. Being the most terrifying story I've read so far from Poe, this one can be highly recommended to be read.

    The Sphinx: (3/5 stars)
    One of his shortest works, "The Sphinx" deals with the cholera epidemic and its influence. Not too disturbing or compelling, but definitely worth a glimpse.

    The Cask of Amontillado: (3,5/5 stars)
    The Cask of Amontillado, the first story I've read as part of my intention to read all of Poe's works, deals with a man's creepy revenge upon an earlier friend who seemingly infuriated the narrator, motivating him to perform his fatal scheme of revenge. This one is not so much about the characters, but more about the atmosphere and the climax itself. Poe focuses on what happens down there in the catacombs, not establishing why it happens. The message: Do never, never, never be so naive to enter some dark, creepy catacombs on another person's request without any witnesses. It might not end too well for your health.

    Poems (listed in chronological order)

    The Raven: (5/5 stars)

    “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
    Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
    As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
    Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door —
    Only this, and nothing more."

    Do I need to add anything else to this quote?

    Annabel Lee: (4/5 stars)
    “It was many and many a year ago,
    In a kingdom by the sea,
    That a maiden there lived whom you may know
    By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
    And this maiden she lived with no other thought
    Than to love and be loved by me.

    As short as Poe's poems are, he always succeeds with breathing life into his words.

    [Updated: 02/19/16]

  8. says:

    Exercises in Genre and Style

    I was never exposed to Poe in my schooldays, but I later became aware of his reputation.

    I didn’t know anything about his writing, except that I expected it to be a kind of guilty pleasure.

    Apparently, I decided to address my ignorance in 1983, when I bought a second hand hardback copy of his complete tales for a bargain price of $1. Unfortunately, I didn’t take the step of reading it until now, when I chose it as one of three books that I planned to read on an overseas family holiday. As it turned out, I neither finished it nor started either of the other two books, and I read the last remaining stories on our return.

    I was aware that Poe specialised in mystery stories and that he had more or less invented the genre of detective fiction. What I didn’t know was that he also wrote relatively self-consciously in a metafictional sense. Not only did he invent a manner of writing, but he explained fairly insightfully what he was trying to accomplish, so that others could follow in his footsteps.

    Poe’s metafictional approach reminded me a lot of the early stories of Borges.

    Verisimilitude: Veracity or Hoax?

    The first story in this collection is “The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall”, which is more like a piece of science fiction (about a trip to the moon).

    It’s not quite clear to the characters whether the trip actually occurred. Thus, the purpose of the tale is to make us believe that it actually did. Poe’s task is therefore to convince us of its veracity. He does this stylistically by containing enough empirical and scientific evidence to persuade us that this level of detail could only be known if the narrator had actually experienced what he purported to have. Poe achieves “plausibility by scientific detail”. Ironically, in an endnote, Poe differentiates his tale from earlier hoaxes (one of which adopts the tone of banter, the other being downright earnest). What differentiates his tale is that it is “an attempt at verisimilitude”.

    While he doesn’t say as much, it can be inferred that, if you can convince a reader that something is the truth, you are equally capable of perpetrating a hoax. This reminded me of the later quotation often attributed to Oscar Wilde:

    “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

    The Discovery of the Concealed

    “The Gold-Bug” concerns the hunt for a buried treasure, the secret location of which is revealed in a coded map. What is concealed can be discovered, if the code is deciphered and the enigma solved. A logic is required to both encipher and decipher the message. The narrator comments:

    “All this is exceedingly clear, and, although ingenious, still simple and explicit.”

    The Minutest Particularity

    In “The Balloon-Hoax”, a hoax is achieved by describing a voyage in “the minutest particulars”. Once again, credibility and credulity are both achieved by particularity and detail.

    In contrast, in “Von Kempelen and His Discovery”, the narrator detects that a paragraph in a newspaper detailing an invention is “apocryphal, principally upon its manner. It does not look true.” Ironically, what allows the narrator to come to this conclusion is an excess of particularity, which is not customary.

    Startling Facts and the Tendency towards Doubt and Disbelief

    “Mesmeric Revelation” commences:

    “Whatever doubt may still envelop the rationale of mesmerism, its startling facts are now almost universally admitted. Of these latter, those who doubt, are your mere doubters by profession - an unprofitable and disreputable tribe.”

    Given the tendency to doubt, the narrator calls into question the purpose of proof -

    “There can be no more absolute waste of time than the attempt to prove, at the present day that man, by mere exercise of will, can so impress his fellow, as to cast him into an abnormal condition, of which the phenomena resemble very closely those of death…”

    Similarly, in “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar”, “a garbled and exaggerated account [of a supposed crime] made its way into society, and became the source of many unpleasant misrepresentations; and, very naturally, of a great deal of disbelief.”

    The narrator addresses the “unwarranted popular feeling of” disbelief by trying to relate the facts, based on contemporaneous notes, “either condensed or copied verbatim”.

    Vicarious Credulity

    In “The Thousand-And-Second Tale”, Poe piggy-backs the credibility of “The Arabian Nights” to tell (Scheherazade) and doubt (the king) various tales (like those in “Gulliver’s Travels”) concerning the voyage of Sinbad around the globe on the back of a huge beast, including that of a petrified forest, and an underwater mountain “down whose sides there streamed torrents of melted metal”, all of which incredible stories concern natural phenomena that contemporary readers will know to exist. In less than 20 pages, Poe better achieves what John Barth would a century later devote an entire novel to.

    In contrast, in “A Descent into the Maelstrom”, Poe describes the loss of a ship and most of its crew (the narrator survives) in the abyss created by “a great whirlpool of the Maelstrom” in words ostensibly borrowed from the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, to which “my imagination most readily assented”.

    “My hair, which had been raven-black the day before, was as white as you see it now...I told them my story - they did not believe it. I now tell it to you - and I can scarcely expect you to put more faith in it than did the merry fishermen of Lofoden.”

    Inordinate Analysis and Ratiocination

    “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, a detective story (in which Poe introduces M.Auguste Dupin), focusses on the process of detection, in particular, the role of rational analysis:

    “The mental features discoursed of as the analytical, are, in themselves, but little susceptible of analysis. We appreciate them only in their effects. We know of them, among other things, that they are always to their possessor, when inordinately possessed, a source of the liveliest enjoyment. As the strong man exults in his physical ability, delighting in such exercises as call his muscles into action, so glories the analyst in that moral activity which disentangles. He derives pleasure from even the most trivial occupations bringing his talent into play. He is fond of enigmas, of conundrums, of hieroglyphics; exhibiting in his solutions of each a degree of acumen which appears to the ordinary apprehension preternatural. His results, brought about by the very soul and essence of method, have, in truth, the whole air of intuition.”

    Ostensible Profundity

    This is a good description of how Poe goes about writing his tales, in particular “The Gold-Bug”. But it also helps to understand the Post-Modernist preoccupation with maximalism, with size or length or quantity over subject or merit or quality. Poe himself adds:

    “What is only complex is mistaken (a not unusual error) for what is profound.”

    In other words, bullshit (and lots of it) baffles brains. These purportedly encyclopaedic fictions “may seduce into error or hurry into miscalculation.”

    Simple Ingenuity

    Poe asserts that “the analytical power should not be confounded with simple ingenuity; for while the analyst is necessarily ingenious, the ingenious man is often remarkably incapable of analysis...Between ingenuity and the analytic ability there exists a difference far greater, indeed, than that between the fancy and the imagination, but of a character very strictly analogous. It will be found, in fact, that the ingenious are always fanciful, and the truly imaginative never otherwise than analytic.”

    On the other hand, Poe adds that “by undue profundity we perplex and enfeeble thought; and it is possible to make even Venus herself vanish from the firmament by a scrutiny too sustained, too concentrated, or too direct.”

    Suggestions and Sensations

    “The Mystery of Marie Roget” concerns another death about two years later than those in the previous story. Despite the amount of factual evidence available to the press, it concerns itself primarily with “suggestions”:

    “We should bear in mind that, in general, it is the object of our newspapers rather to create a sensation - to make a point - than to further the cause of truth.”

    Dupin puts the newspapers to the test and concludes that their assertions “now appear a tissue of inconsequence and incoherence”.

    Collateral Irrelevancy

    Poe also comments on judicial practice:

    “It is the malpractice of the courts to confine evidence and discussion to the bounds of apparent relevancy. Yet experience has shown...that a vast, perhaps the larger portion of the truth, arises from the seemingly irrelevant. It is through the spirit of this principle, if not precisely through its letter, that modern science has resolved to calculate upon the unforeseen...The history of human knowledge has so uninterruptibly shown that to collateral, or incidental, or accidental events we are indebted for the most numerous and most valuable discoveries, that it has at length become necessary, in any prospective view of improvement, to make not only large, but the largest allowances for inventions that shall arise by chance, and quite out of the range of ordinary expectation. It is no longer philosophical to base, upon what has been, a vision of what is to be. Accident is admitted as a portion of the substructure.”

    Thus, Poe questions the role of reason and logic, not just in the process of detection, but in the creation of literature.

    Self-Evident Non-Concealment

    Poe pursues the counter-intuitive in “The Purloined Letter”, the facts of which Dupin describes as “simple and odd”, as well as a mystery that is “a little too plain, a little too self-evident”.

    The stolen letter has been concealed, but all logicał attempts to locate it have failed. Dupin comes to the conclusion that, “to conceal the letter, the Minister had resorted to the comprehensive and sagacious expedient of not attempting to conceal it at all.”

    In other words, the letter had been hidden in plain sight.

    Deathly Swoons and Slumbers

    “The Black Cat” is a Gothic tale concerning an attempt to conceal a murder that comes undone, i.e., another example of a failed concealment.

    The concealment tales are followed by a number of mistaken entombment tales, the first being “The Fall of the House of Usher”. In “The Pit and the Pendulum”, it is the narrator who is entombed during the Inquisition:

    “In the deepest slumber - no! In delirium - no! In a swoon - no! In death - no! Even in the grave all is not lost. Arousing from the most profound of slumbers, we break the gossamer web of some dream.”

    The Bewilderment of the Visionary

    Poe describes near-death experiences in terms of the visionary:

    “He who has never swooned, is not he who finds strange palaces and wildly familiar faces in coals that glow; is not he who beholds floating in mid-air the sad visions that the many may not view; is not he whose brain grows bewildered with the meaning of some musical cadence which has never before arrested his attention.”

    Darkness Evermore

    Poe continues into the realm of horror in “The Premature Burial”. Again, the narrator recites numerous real-life examples of such events to add to the veracity of his tale, before admitting that this event actually happened to him:

    “I knew that I had now fully recovered the use of my visual faculties - and yet it was dark - all dark - the intense and utter raylessness of the Night that endureth for evermore.”

    Near-death is as close to death as we are able to experience and live to tell the tale.

    The Confession of Guilt

    In “The Cask of Amontillado”, the narrator entombs a friend without being detected. His friend rests in peace, even if the narrator doesn’t.

    In “The Imp of the Perverse”, the narrator murders a friend, only to be plagued by the temptation to confess his crime. The spirit of the perverse condemns us to do what we should not, even if it threatens our own safety.

    My Wife and My Dead Wife

    In “The Oval Portrait”, the narrator recounts a story about a painter who fell in love with a painting of his own wife, who perishes from his subsequent neglect.

    The narrator in “The Assignation” also loses something of value over the matter of a painting:

    “Ill-fated and mysterious man! - bewildered in the brilliancy of thine own imagination, and fallen in the flames of thine own youth! Again in fancy I behold thee!”

    Self-Denial and Confession

    “The Tell-Tale Heart” is another story in which the drive to confess to a crime prevails.

    In “The Domain of Arnheim”, Poe returns to the difference between reason and the imagination:

    “In truth, while that virtue which consists in the mere avoidance of vice appeals directly to the understanding, and can thus be circumscribed in rule, the loftier virtue, which flames in creation, can be apprehended in its results alone. Rule applies but to the merits of denial - to the excellences which refrain. Beyond these, the critical art can but suggest.”

    Cursed and Caught Out

    “Berenice” is another tale in which the narrator finds that he has killed a friend (his cousin) and been found out (this time without needing to confess).

    In “Eleonora”, memories of the narrator’s deceased love curse a subsequent relationship. “Ligeia” witnesses life after death, but still highlights the ephemerality of life and beauty, and the terrors of death. The narrator suffers doubly from his opium-induced dreams.

    In contrast, the narrator of “Morella” longs for the death of his eponymous wife, who eventually dies while giving birth to a daughter with the same name and characteristics.

    Convinced by (an) Imperfect Vision

    In “Shadow - A Parable”, Poe recognises the incredibility of his tale (set in ancient Egypt) by anticipating that some readers will disbelieve it and some will doubt it instead.

    “The Spectacles” comically cautions the reader against love at first sight, especially when you have less than perfect vision.

    “The Oblong Box” plays with the format of a wife in a coffin.

    “Three Sundays in a Week” returns to the linguistic tricks of “The Gold-Bug”.

    “Thou Art the Man” is a humorous tale of how the deceased victim manages to confront his murderer with his guilt.

    “Some Words with a Mummy” reprises “The Thousand-And-Second Tale”, only the mummy compares the current world unfavourably with his own world thousands of years before.

    For all Poe’s Gothic Romanticism, horror and humour, his metafictional objectives make his tales that much more interesting, entertaining and relevant to our time.

    January 26, 2017

  9. says:

    Edgar Allan Poe’s stories are the tales told by the raven on the longest winter night long after midnight…

    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
    In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
    Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
    Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

    Though it is impossible to name the most favourite tale now I remember when I read his stories first time in my childhood somehow I was hypnotized most by The Cask of Amontillado, probably because the festive atmosphere turns into the perfectly sinister one so unexpectedly.
    We continued our route in search of the Amontillado. We passed through a range of low arches, descended, passed on, and descending again, arrived at a deep crypt, in which the foulness of the air caused our flambeaux rather to glow than flame.
    At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared another less spacious. Its walls had been lined with human remains, piled to the vault overhead, in the fashion of the great catacombs of Paris. Three sides of this interior crypt were still ornamented in this manner. From the fourth the bones had been thrown down, and lay promiscuously upon the earth, forming at one point a mound of some size. Within the wall thus exposed by the displacing of the bones, we perceived a still interior recess, in depth about four feet, in width three, in height six or seven. It seemed to have been constructed for no especial use within itself, but formed merely the interval between two of the colossal supports of the roof of the catacombs, and was backed by one of their circumscribing walls of solid granite.

    Even now, due to their narrative power and chilling macabre storylines, such tales as The Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death, The Murders in the Rue Morgue and many others remain unforgettable and matchless.
    Ever since cave man has been sitting by his primitive hearth huddling close to the fire scared of every shadow we still keep our primordial fear. And to win over this fear reading dark tales is a great pleasure.

  10. says:

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

    Peering at the Self: "Complete Tales & Poems" by Edgar Allan Poe

    (Original Review, 1992-12-16)

    Can a reader in this and age fully appreciate Poe? Maybe the age of the reader is significant - I first encountered Poe over four decades ago - in the sense that time on the planet, life lived, experiences felt and understood, are part of the maturing process essential to entering Poe's visions and dream-states. Some of the comments I’ve read elsewhere suggest a fidgety class of pre-adolescents who have lost - if ever they had - what might be called attention spans. Then again, maybe Poe is uniquely American and the Europeans cannot fully grasp him.

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