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.
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 underappreciated master.
Not just underappreciated by many readers today, for whom he's synonymous with being a sort of protoschlockhorror writer, but underappreciated 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 highstrung 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 suchto see behind the masks they donand it's there that his tales gather most force.
I'm going for a 3.
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 postits!
The Murders In The Rue Morgue
The Mystery of Marie Roget
The TellTale Heart
Found in a Bottle
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Oblong Box
The Premature Burial
The Imp of the Perverse
The Facts of the Case of M.
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 City in the Sea
The Valley of Unrest
Bridal Ballad to
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.
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***** Reading "The Complete Stories and Poems" will be a hell of a timeconsuming 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 wellknown aspects of his writing style which he has become so popular for.
Quite disturbing, relying on speculative thoughts due to the narrative, a thoughtprovoking 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 terriblywritten 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 OneThe HomoCameleopard: (1/5 stars)
I have no idea what to think of Four Beasts In One: The HomoCameleopard.
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 reread it soon.
A Descent into the Maelstrom (3/5 stars)
With the creepy title and the horrifying premisethe narrator talking about a fishing trip with his two brothers which ended in chaos and turmoil years agoI 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 TellTale Heart: (5/5 stars)
The TellTale 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 wellwritten, 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] 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 supernaturalhorror 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'.
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 selfconsciously 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 GoldBug” 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 BalloonHoax”, 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 professionan 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”.
In “The ThousandAndSecond Tale”, Poe piggybacks 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 ravenblack the day before, was as white as you see it now.
I told them my storythey did not believe it.
I now tell it to youand 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.
This is a good description of how Poe goes about writing his tales, in particular “The GoldBug”.
But it also helps to understand the PostModernist 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.
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 sensationto make a pointthan 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”.
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.
Poe pursues the counterintuitive 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 selfevident”.
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.
, 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 slumberno! In deliriumno! In a swoonno! In deathno! 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 neardeath 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 midair 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.
Poe continues into the realm of horror in “The Premature Burial”.
Again, the narrator recites numerous reallife 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 facultiesand yet it was darkall darkthe intense and utter raylessness of the Night that endureth for evermore.
Neardeath 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:
“Illfated 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!”
SelfDenial and Confession
“The TellTale 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 denialto 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 opiuminduced 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 “ShadowA 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 GoldBug”.
“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 ThousandAndSecond 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 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.
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Peering at the Self: "Complete Tales & Poems" by Edgar Allan Poe
(original Review, 19921216)
Can a reader in this and age fully appreciate Poe? Maybe the age of the reader is significantI first encountered Poe over four decades agoin 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 dreamstates.
Some of the comments I’ve read elsewhere suggest a fidgety class of preadolescents who have lostif ever they hadwhat might be called attention spans.
Then again, maybe Poe is uniquely American and the Europeans cannot fully grasp him.