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The Complete Stories (Everyman's Library) (Hardcover) by Edgar Allan Poe (Author)
Edgar Allan Poe's gift for the macabre--his genius in finding the strangeness lurking at the heart of things-was so extraordinary that he exerted a major influence on Baudelaire and French symbolism, on Freudian analysis, and also on the detective novel and the Hollywood movie. His psychologically profound stories of encounters with the marvelous, the uncanny, and the dreadful represent--in contrast to the optimism of writers like Emerson and Whitman--the other, darker side of the nineteenth-century American sensibility.
Review of an early edition of Poe's Tales from the September 1845 issue of The American Whig Review
5 out of 5 stars All The Poe That's Fit To Print; A Collector's Dream, December 13, 2005
By Ralph White (New England) (TOP 1000 REVIEWER) (REAL NAME)
First impressions count, and this book is extremely attractive. The attractiveness of the printed page completes the "premium" feel of this edition. If you plan to have the book on your bookshelf for many years to come, pulling it out to re-read a familiar story, or read an obscure one for the first time, you will appreciate this bibliophile edition. Here I will consider one representative of each type of story: a familar story, an obscure one, and a poem.
"Murders on the Rue Morgue" is a typically brief story of some thirty-two pages. It involves protagonists who have a dark side, and who are quite fond of the dark. "The sable divinity [night] would not herself dwell with us always; but we could counterfeit her presence. At the first dawn of the morning we closed all the massy shutters of our old building; lighted a couple of tapers which, stongly perfumed, threw out only the gastliest and feeblest of rays." And these are the good guys. The bad guy has "...an agility astounding, a strength superhuman, a ferocity brutal, a butchery without motive, a grotesquerie in horror absolutely alien from humanity, and a voice foreign in tone to the ears of men of many nations..." It is a crime story solved through clairvoyant analysis.
"The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym" is a lesser known story of some sixty pages, comprising three disasters at sea, consecutively befalling the same narrator. They are horrific events, initially terrifying, but becoming less so as the author passes over the boundary of science fiction, where our affinity for the protagonist is severed. While this story is extremely entertaining, Poe intentionally left it unfinished, and it is disappointing to never learn how the survivor returned to civilization to tell his tale.
"The Raven" is a deliciously nihilistic poem, in which the sole word spoken by the bird dashes the narrator's romantic dreams of becoming reunited with his life's sole love in a heavenly afterlife. The bird's view is that the soul dies with the body and that the human spirit is snuffed out with death. You may view the raven as the devil if you like, or simply a provocative existentialist; your enjoyment of the poem will not suffer. This poem is evocative of themes developed by the alchemist poet, Omar Khayyam (see my review); if you like one, you'll like the other.
Buy this book for its heirloom feel, and pass it on when you have sloughed your own mortal coil.
5 out of 5 stars Gold bugs, plagues and more, January 10, 2007
By E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) (TOP 10 REVIEWER) (REAL NAME)
Poe was a tormented genius who died young, under mysterious circumstances, and at the time of his death he wasn't deservingly popular. Certainly his work was not cute fluff for the masses -- he explored the darkness of the human heart, love, death, and the earliest whodunnit stories.
"The Complete Stories" brings together (in the gorgeous Everyman's series) all of Poe's stories of horror, mystery and suspense, done in the atmospheric prose of a master writer.
Poe's fiction writings include short stories and novellas, which tend to be rather weird -- a treasure-hunt and a golden insect, a ship caught in a whirlpool, a hypnotized man talks about the universe, and stories of despair, madness, and occasionally beauty.
Among the more striking are "Maseque of the Red Death," where a sealed castle is invaded by a plague, and "Tell Tale Heart," about the horror of hidden guilt. There is also his trilogy of Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin stories, which were the first to feature a brilliant detective solving an impossible crime.
And, of course, the horror. This is what Poe is best known for, including such well-known stories as "The Fall Of The House Of Usher." But there are also lesser-known gems -- tales of a plague invading a party, being buried alive, a portrait that siphoned the life out of its subject, and a nightly visit to an Italian crypt leading to madness.
It's not a good idea to read "Complete Stories" all at once -- it's too intense, too overwhelming. Rather, read it one story at a time, and let it sink in, so that you can get a better feel for the different kinds of writing that Poe did, and how he excelled at pretty much everything he put down on paper. Most great writers can't boast of that much.
Poe's writing is absolutely brilliant -- it makes the most minor story come alive. His style brings a gothic, misty vibrancy to the stories, and used startlingly quiet dialogue ("I have no name in the regions which I inhabit. I was mortal, but am fiend..."). It's not hard to see why he was an influence on authors such as Fyodor Dostoevsky, Oscar Wilde, Arthur Conan Doyle and Franz Kafka.
Poe's "Complete Stories" is a must-have for anyone with an appreciation for great literature, exquisite writing, and the dark recesses of the soul.
5 out of 5 stars A fantastic writer and a beautiful edition!, July 17, 2008
By onioneater "onioneater" (Rexburg, ID United States)
I know that this writer is not for everyone. My wife, for example, does not like his writing at all. "Too dark for me" she says. I, however, must appreciate the ability Poe had to describe the baseness of the human soul in mysterious and gothic stories. I love his writing! And this edition is stunning. It's all the Poe that you'll ever need!